How Lara inspired Bavuma in his landmark Test match


Of all the messages Temba Bavuma received as he prepared to make his Test captaincy debut against West Indies in Centurion, Brian Lara’s was among those that meant the most. “He came to me and said, ‘Big respect, big up. All respect to you for the position you have,’ and he wished me well,” Bavuma said. “I had to pinch myself there.”

When Lara made his Test debut in December 1990, Bavuma was only seven months old. He would have been too young to have watched South Africa’s first Test post-readmission: against West Indies in 1992, when half-centuries from Lara and current Cricket West Indies director of cricket Jimmy Adams set South Africa a target they ultimately did not achieve. But as he grew up, Bavuma would have heard a lot about West Indies, and Lara.

He was a teenager when Lara scored 202 at Wanderers and 115 at Newlands – in a series South Africa won 3-0 in the summer of 2003-04 – as well as the 196 in Port of Spain and 176 in Bridgetown against South Africa two years later. Lara was a bonafide great, and a role model to Bavuma in a way no one else could be.

In Bavuma’s early years, the South African team had no black African players. He was eight when Makhaya Ntini was capped in 1998, and by the time Bavuma became a Test player in 2014 – against none other than West Indies – only four other black African players had represented South Africa in Test cricket, and none of them were batters. Bavuma became the first. —INP