1. It’s been one helluva ride since you made your Test debut in 2014. Do you think that you have cemented your place in the team as yet?
Definitely not. There are still quality batsmen around the team. I’m still young into my career, haven’t even played 15 Tests yet. But I do think I’ve made strides forward considering how I started my international career. There is though still plenty of work to done.
2. After that historic maiden century in the New Year Test at Newlands you have struck two half-centuries and a couple of forties. Is your conversion rate to three figures something you would like to improve?
That has been a disappointing feature of my game. I am starting to make a habit of getting in and then not converting. Obviously with me batting in the middle-order it doesn’t put the team in a position to win the game. It might be a competitive position, but not a really strong position. It is an aspect of my game that I really am trying to work on and to capitalise on those starts.
3. Is it a technical fault or more a mental issue?
It is definitely the mental aspect of my game. As a batter, the hardest part of the game is that first 20 runs, that first 20 balls. So, the fact I am getting past those 20 balls shows the technique aspect is sound. Now, it’s just the mental side of things to just keep batting like you were, doing the same things, and just try to extend it.
4. Who do you consult with matters like these?
I think you need to look within yourself. It’s a mental thing, so it’s very much an internal thing that you have to try and deal with. When those moments do come, when you’re in the 20s, 30s and 40s, it is all about a greater awareness. These are ‘red flag’ moments when you must just take greater care in the way you go about things. It does become a more internal fight.
5. Can you explain the science behind being successful batting in the middle-order?
At number 6 I am the link between the top and lower order. Sometimes when I walk in a top-order batsman is still at the crease, a guy like Faf (du Plessis), and I just try to adapt to his kind of game. I’ve been batting with him for a while now, so I’ve come to understand the tempo, the intensity and the kind of language I have to use when I bat with him.
Similarly batting with Quinton (de Kock), that’s kind of the opposite spectrum of things. I’ve batted with him for a while so it comes more natural. Batting in the middle-order is about adapting to the situation and the body language of your partner.
6. England’s Ben Stokes attacked you verbally in the New Year Test. The Aussies are renowned sledgers too, have they targeted you out in the middle?
Not necessarily. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been too much verbal gestures from the Australians. There are though still two matches to go so anything can still happen (laughs). From my side there’s been no verbal banter towards me.
7. Your run out of David Warner was simply sensational at the WACA. Would you put it down to hard work at training or simply good fortune?
I think the training part definitely played its part. As much as cricket is about taking wickets and scoring runs, you still have to put in the work. I think it’s also about wanting to create that something special for the team. I consider myself a batsmen, even though I’ve started bowling a little bit (laughs again), so it’s important that I contribute in the field as much as I can. Also in that second innings we were a bowler down, so it was important that we backed up the bowlers. Luckily the moment came about and I was able to affect that run out.
8. The run out along with a few other things has catapulted Temba Bavuma into something of a cult hero here in Australia this summer. Did you ever think a little guy from Langa could achieve this all so quickly?
It would be far-fetched to say that it was something I could ever have imagined, especially in regards to fielding. All the comments and compliments from all the people have been quite humbling. Hopefully in the remaining in the next two games I can actually contribute with the bat too.
9. Coach Russell Domingo said you were the kind of guy “that things seem to happen around” and ABC Radio termed you South Africa’s “X-factor” in the Perth Test. Would you agree that you are an action junkie?
I am quite a positive, energetic individual that is always trying to look forward. Generally with that kind of attitude something is bound to happen. It could be good or it could be bad. I could be bowling no-balls and dropping catches (smirks). But I am always looking to be in the action otherwise I might fall asleep in the field.
10. Have you at least watched the run out again?
I’ve seen it several times. It was a crazy, crazy moment. I think I’ll struggle to replicate that in the future!
11. The Proteas are on the verge of creating history here in Hobart should Australia be defeated in this second Test. What would it mean to you personally to be a part of this historic achievement should it occur?
It will be massive, especially for us as teammates because we were toiling in India this time last year. So, for us to get that winning momentum on our side will be massive for our confidence. It will be big step forward for us as a team. Back home too, it will start uniting people too and to be part of a team like that, especially in the beginning of my international career, it will be massive.
The WACA or the Wanderers?
Shisa nyama or pasta?
Snap back caps or Baggy green?
Independent MediaIOL Sport's cricket writer Zaahier Adams sits down exclusively with Temba Bavuma ahead of the second Test in Hobart.
Original source: #ZaahierinOZ: Q&A with Temba Bavuma