Bazball a ‘stupid’ term but South Africa captain admits England are ‘pioneers of the game’

Temba Bavuma feels South Africa can learn a thing or two from England’s approach (Donall Farmer/PA) (PA Archive)
Temba Bavuma feels South Africa can learn a thing or two from England’s approach (Donall Farmer/PA) (PA Archive)
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Temba Bavuma labelled Bazball a “stupid term” but admitted South Africa will look to adopt some of the principles that have made England a threat in all formats.

England themselves wince at how their Test transformation has been reductively boiled down but an ultra attacking approach since Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes took charge has attracted admirers worldwide.

South Africa have had an ignominious past few months and face an uphill battle to reach the 2023 World Cup, so Bavuma believes an ODI series against England starting on Friday marks the start of a new era.

And while he insisted South Africa will stay true to themselves, he feels there are elements they can take from England, the reigning ODI and T20 World Cup champions, beginning in Bloemfontein this week.

“England are probably the pioneers of the game,” said South Africa’s limited-overs captain. “Guys are taking on the game a lot more and England have obviously done that very well.

“We South Africans have our way of thinking, our way of doing things, but I think there is nothing wrong with us taking a little bit from England, pulling it together and seeing what comes about.

“It is a bit of a fresh start for us. From now looking ahead, there’s a potential for us to do things differently. The biggest thing with the personnel we have is guys going out expressing themselves.

  • 1st ODI (D/N), Bloemfontein, January 27

  • 2nd ODI, Bloemfontein, January 29

  • 3rd ODI (D/N), Kimberley, February 1

“If that equates to a South African ‘Bazball’ way of playing – to use a stupid term – then so be it, if it means we’re going to go out there and block the s**t out of the ball then so be it.”

South Africa were embarrassingly eliminated at the group stage of last year’s T20 World Cup and are out of the top-eight qualification places for the 50-over equivalent in India this autumn.

They have only five more matches – three against England and two versus the Netherlands – to push up the table and must realistically claim four wins to avoid a separate qualifying tournament in June.

“We haven’t swerved around that as a team,” Bavuma said. “We obviously know where we stand. If it means in June or July we’re playing the the qualifiers, that’s something we’re prepared to do.”

While Bavuma’s position came under scrutiny after what happened at the T20 World Cup, he insisted he has the backing of a new regime, with Rob Walter set to coach the limited-overs sides from February 1. Recently-appointed Test coach Shukri Conrad is overseeing the group for the series against England.

“At the moment, the coach has entrusted me with the role and fortunately I’ve got a bunch of guys that support me to hell and back so it’s business as usual for now,” Bavuma said.

While most of the side have warmed up for this series by playing in the SA20, South Africa’s newly-created T20 franchise league, Bavuma was peculiarly overlooked by the six teams at last year’s auction.

“There’s nothing really I can do about it, as unusual as it is,” he added. “I’m definitely one of those people that moves on with things whatever happens. I’ll always try to keep a smile on my face.”