Neth vs SA, Men’s T20 World Cup 2022
Throughout, Bavuma was acutely aware of the noise around him and admitted it affected him. “Mentally, it does eat at you as a player,” Bavuma said. “You try to manage your mental space as much as you can. You try to control what gets to you but with social media, whatever is being said out there always gets to you,” he said. “I always try to keep a level head, through all the good and the bad times. I try to be as close to myself as possible. Not just for myself but for this group. We are going to take a lot of flack as a group and rightly so.”
Bavuma expects criticism over his decision to bowl first on a surface where chasing always appeared tricky but believed his attack had enough firepower to justify that decision. “When you make a decision like that, you expect us to put them under pressure with the ball. We didn’t do that,” he said.
“Mentally, it does eat at you as a player. You try to manage your mental space as much as you can. You try to control what gets to you but with social media, whatever is being said out there always gets to you.”
Temba Bavuma on the criticism around his form
He also expects criticism over the way South Africa approached the chase, with a distinct lack of energy, and he accepts something was amiss. “We still had the responsibility with the bat and we just couldn’t get any type of momentum or flow to our innings. We couldn’t adapt to the slow nature of the wicket.” Bavuma said. “You can pick at a lot of things. It’s disappointing for all of us.”
And even though he expects South Africa to continue to be labelled chokers, Bavuma maintains that South Africa did not take their position as group leaders at one stage, having already gone through all their so-called tough games, for granted. “I wouldn’t say I felt a different type of pressure [playing Netherlands compared to the other games]. We knew we had to win the game and we didn’t win the game. We played against India and we knew we had to win that game and we won that game. What was different then, I don’t know.”
Whether he will be the one to lead them there, may not be up to him at all but, “whatever happens, I think I carried myself with dignity,” he said. “Through all the good and bad times and, if I were to leave, I would leave with my pride intact.”