February 5, 2020 / 7:07 AM / 19 days ago

Cricket: Bavuma hits out at double standards in transformation debate

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Temba Bavuma hopes his eye-catching innings in South Africa’s seven-wicket victory over England in the first one-day international at Newlands on Tuesday will end the debate over whether he deserves his place in the side.

Cricket - South Africa v England - First ODI - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - February 4, 2020 South Africa's Temba Bavuma in action REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Batting at number three, Bavuma’s excellent 98 comes after a difficult month in which he was temporarily dropped from the test side for a home series against England that South Africa lost 3-1.

His axing stirred debate on social media about whether his place in the team was deserved or whether he was only being picked because of efforts to redress imbalances from the country’s apartheid era.

Cricket South Africa targets the inclusion of two black African players and four from the mixed-race and Indian communities in each team, averaged through the year.

“It has been hard. It’s not so much the dropping part, all players get dropped, everyone goes through slumps of not scoring well,” Bavuma told reporters.

“The awkwardness and discomfort from my side is when you are thrown into talks of transformation.

“Yes, I am black, that’s my skin. But I play cricket because I love it.

“I’d like to think the reason I am in the team is because of performances I have put forward in my franchise side, and also for the national team, whenever I have been able to.”

The 29-year-old, who has been a top performer across all formats in domestic cricket over the past few years, has hit out at what he saw as double standards in the transformation debate.

“The one thing that irks me is when you are seen through the eyes of transformation,” he said.

“When you do well, transformation is not spoken about but when you do badly transformation is thrown at the top of the agenda. I have a serious problem with that.

“We’ve got to be able to take the good with the bad. If transformation is bad when black African players are not doing well, then when we are doing well, let’s also recognise transformation for what it’s done.”

The diminutive batsman said he is not taking his place in the team for granted.

“I don’t think I have nailed my spot in the side. This was just my third game and I am just happy to be on the field,” he added.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen after this series or next week. It’s just to enjoy the little moments I have.”

Editing by Peter Rutherfordpeter.rutherford@thomsonreuters.com; +822 6936 1482

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