- Proteas star Temba Bavuma believes the announcement of the first half of international fixtures for the season is a major boost for the beleaguered local game.
- The diminutive right-hander says the players now have a responsibility to win some hearts back through the weight of their performances in the coming weeks.
- New Highveld Lions signing Lutho Sipamla also agrees that the “fight needs to be fought” on the field.
While his immediate focus is on helping the Highveld Lions become the first team in South African franchise history to claim three consecutive first-class titles, Temba Bavuma has labelled the confirmation of the first round of international fixtures for the season as a “ray of light”.
Local cricket has been dogged for months by Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) governance implosion, which came to a head early this week with the resignations of its entire board.
A steering committee will now be formed to navigate the choppy administrative waters but at least on-field play is returning, highlighted by the Proteas’ white-ball series against England next month as well as Test series against Sri Lanka over the festive period.
“That news has been a ray of light,” Bavuma said on Tuesday at the Highveld Lions launch for the coming domestic season, which commences early next week.
“It’s wonderful that the England series has been confirmed. There’s been a lot of uncertainty over the past few months, so it’s comforting to have some cricket for the foreseeable future. Everybody is ready to go.”
There’s little the players themselves have been able to do in terms of remedying boardroom leadership that has failed the game though the diminutive right-hander admits they now have a responsibility to win back the hearts of disillusioned supporters.
“We definitely have our part to play, to bring back some confidence into the game and making supporters appreciate it,” said Bavuma.
“Even the start of the domestic season (next week) is an important event. The first two rounds of the four-day competition will feature the national players. That will be massive. The standard of cricket will be something to look forward to.
“Strength-versus-strength has been something a lot of players have been calling on. That’s an opportunity for us to put some smiles on fans’ faces.”
Bavuma’s new Lions team-mate and exciting young Proteas quick, Lutho Sipamla, agrees.
“For us, to now know that international cricket is on the cards gives us an extra bit of drive,” said the 22-year-old, who moved from the Warriors in the off-season.
“Of course the drive has always been there but in these times, it’s a big plus. Hopefully everything goes well. I’m not in a position to comment on what’s been happening off the field but all we as players can do is perform on it.
“We’ve put in the work and the guys are ready. We can only fight the fight by giving our best in matches.”