It is the first ever century by a black South African for the Proteas and Temba Bavuma’s sterling innings against England on Tuesday will long live in the minds – and hearts – of the South African sporting community.
The 25-year-old played some simply stunning shots in an innings that silenced the critics who had questioned his ability to play at this level.
Bavuma went into his seventh Test match with an average of just over 20 and with a best score of 54. He, along with a number of the Proteas batsmen, was under fire to perform.
But Bavuma said after Tuesday’s play that he had never once felt that kind of pressure.
“I think with the team culture that we have, as a batter you never really feel any kind of pressure because you know the guys are backing you 100%,” he said.
“Yes, you haven’t done well in a game but I never honestly felt any pressure.
I knew the guys backed me, I knew the coach backed me so it was just up to me to try and make something happen.”
Preparation, says Bavuma, is everything.
“If you’ve put all the right ingredients into your pot you have to trust that and have faith in that,” he said.
“I’ve worked hard, I’ve been doing the right things and asking the right questions so it was almost just a matter of time before something happened.”
But the Cape Town-born Highveld Lions batsman has a different kind of pressure.
There has been Makhaya Ntini, Mfuneko Ngam, Thami Tsolekile and Monde Zondeki … but never before have the Proteas played a black African as a specialist batsman.
Bavuma is aware of the social significance that comes with being a member of this side, and he said on Tuesday that it is not the easiest thing in the world to get his head around.
“It’s a whole lot of pressure, to be honest,” he said.
“I think when I made my debut for South Africa I came to be a bit more aware and realise the significance behind it all.
“It’s not just me making my debut … it’s being a model and an inspiration to other kids, black African kids in particular, to aspire to. So I think in achieving this kind of milestone it will strengthen that.”
But Bavuma has no complaints.
“Everyone faces different pressures, whatever they may be … from their families, from their communities whatever,” he said.
“Pressure is pressure … it’s part and parcel of the game. It comes in different forms and you have just got to try and find a way to deal with it and be successful.” – Sport24