Pro 20 cricket, simply put, is an animalistic version of the game I love, dominated by large individuals, flat batting wickets, and mediocre bowlers who are dispatched to every corner of the ground for 20 overs before the oppositions large individuals get their turn. Or so I thought…
On the evening of the 14th of November, a relatively cold evening I found myself sitting in the shadow of the iconic Table Mountain at Newlands cricket stadium, which in my opinion, is one of the most picturesque stadiums in that world cricket has to offer.
I had a brief look at the line-ups of the Cape Town Blitz and the Jozi Stars and a couple of names grab your attention immediately. I’m of course referring to the likes of Chris Gayle, Quinto de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, and Malan who are well known for their ‘big-hitting’ abilities and are essentially the players that we as fans pay good money to watch!
Now before we move on, I think it would be fair to stay that I’m a tad biased in this situation and I’d like to consider myself a purist when it comes to cricket. I enjoy test cricket more than any other format given the relatively even contest between bat and ball and the ‘battles’ that go for sessions, days and even years between players.
Having said that, after the cheap dismissal of Chris Gayle last night, out strode the ever competent 5 ft 3 Temba Bavuma, who if we’re honest with ourselves, is not best known for his ‘power-hitting’ abilities. What transpired for the next hour was a brilliant display of good old-fashioned traditional cricket fundamentals being applied at the crease.
With a bowling attack that consisted of arguably one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time Dale Steyn, and the speedster combo of the local Anrich Nortje and Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz (all 3 have played test cricket), Bavuma dispatched them, albeit in vain, to the boundary with ease and grace without anyone really batting an eyelid. It seemed to come to him naturally and as a member of the crowd I found myself thinking ‘well that wasn’t a particularly special delivery and rightly so, it’s been dispatched quite comfortably’ and before anyone really knew it, Bavuma had brought a half-century at a strike rate well above 100 while his teammates looked as if they were batting on a completely different wicket and facing completely different bowlers.
Not once did I see Temba clear the front leg and look to ‘hook’ the ball over cow corners head each and every delivery but instead I found him doing the basics really well. Foot to the ball, head straight, play the ball under the eyes, use the pace, rotate the strike, etc. it was a brilliant and unsurprising reminder that without all fancy team names, bright colors, flames, loud music, and dancers, it’s just another game of cricket, the game I love, and that the best results will always come from doing ordinary things, extraordinarily.
Well played Temba Bavuma!