The South Africa captain hopes to open the batting along with Quinton de Kock in the T20 World Cup
“My hand is definitely improving by the day,” Bavuma said. “It’s getting stronger and I am getting a lot more comfortable with it. Tomorrow will be the first time I am having a live net, facing bowlers, so I am looking forward to that and that will give me a better indication of how far I’ve progressed. At the moment, everything is still on track. I am looking to play in the warm-up games. I am feeling good.”
With teams training under strict biosecure conditions, no external net bowlers are allowed, so Bavuma will have to face one of his own. It’s not yet known who that will be, although it’s likely to be one of the slower pace bowlers, such as Wiaan Mulder, or a spinner like Bjorn Fortuin, rather than one of the out-and-out quicks.
Irrespective of who runs in, Bavuma is concerned with using the exercise as a way to understand what he can and cannot do in terms of his grip and ability to hit the ball. “What I am trying to get out of it is to get comfortable with my hand and with what I can do and, I guess, make peace with what I can’t do. I can’t say I am scared or anything like that. It’s hard for me to give any emotions. It’s just for me to get the necessary comfort and also to assess where I am.”
Should Bavuma get through that session and the subsequent ones over the next nine days, he hopes to line up alongside Quinton de Kock to open the batting for South Africa at the tournament proper. “My role is quite obvious and clear,” Bavuma said. “I am someone to come in at the top, and if there is an opportunity to come in at No. 3, I will fill in that spot.”
Getting the balance between steady scorers and big-hitters right will be an urgent consideration for South Africa, who, on the evidence of the IPL, expect conditions to be tough for batting. “As a batter, I’d like to be able to get on a nice wicket where you can hit through the line and throw your hands, but the general trend from looking at the IPL is that we won’t have that luxury as batters,” Bavuma said. “We will have to really graft out there. We will really have to be smart. Scores of 150-160 look like winning scores. As batters, we are going to have to dig deep.”
Like Aiden Markram, Bavuma thinks the most difficult conditions will be in Sharjah, where South Africa play two of their five group games. “Looking at the games played in Sharjah, it’s been rather interesting,” Bavuma said. “Wickets have been a bit tougher and guys have had to be smart, think on their feet and adjust accordingly. We don’t know what state the wickets are going to be in. We expect the wickets to be a bit worn out. The biggest thing for us is to try and assess and adapt as quickly as we can on the day.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
Pat Cummins eager for clarity over Justin Langer’s contract
The coach is not certain to get a new deal despite T20 World Cup and Ashes success
The future of Langer, who comes off contract in mid-2022 and has made it clear he is keen to continue, remains an unresolved talking point.
The former Test opener changed his ways, adopting more of a low-key role as Australia went on to win the Twenty20 World Cup and retain the urn. But there remains speculation Cricket Australia will opt to move Langer on.
Cummins, asked about Langer after Australia claimed an unassailable 3-0 lead in their five-Test series against England, bluntly replied that “his contract is up for renewal in a few months and we’ll deal with that then”.
He struck a more diplomatic note in Hobart, speaking after his four-wicket haul helped Australia claim a first-innings lead of 115 runs in the fifth and final Ashes Test.
“That’s above my pay grade. We’ll wait and see, it’d be nice to have clarity for everyone,” Cummins said. “But he’s been doing a fantastic job, we absolutely love JL.
“He’s been really great through the World Cup and the Ashes. Honestly, it’s not been a talking point at all within the camp.
“The plan has always been to chat about it after the Ashes, so the powers that be, I’m sure, will chat at some stage. But he’s been fantastic for us and the boys love having him around.”
CA chief executive Nick Hockley and high-performance boss Ben Oliver are yet to set a definitive timeline around the call on Langer, likewise a final decision on potentially splitting the role by installing separate white-ball and red-ball mentors.
But the growing expectation is the elephant in the room will be addressed soon after the Ashes series finale. Oliver noted last month that CA will take player feedback on board before resolving Langer’s future.
“Position in doubt? Influenced the culture and character of the team after the Cape Town debacle,” Waugh posted on Instagram. “Coached the team to a winning World Cup 20/20 and now to a commanding Ashes victory. Time to put the rumours and innuendo to rest. #respect #culture #character.”
“I don’t know what everyone’s waiting for,” Warne told Fox Cricket. “He should be signed up in my opinion because he’s done such a good job.
“We’re not inside the dressing room, so we don’t know all the inside-outs, but I think the only way we can judge a coach is from the performances and has Australian cricket got better? Is the better of cricket better domestically? Is there a group of players? There’s probably three or four players outside this squad now that could all play and that wasn’t there a couple of years ago.”
Australia do not have much of a break in their schedule after the Ashes with limited-overs matches against New Zealand and Sri Lanka from late January to mid-February.
That is then followed by the tour of Pakistan, Australia’s first to the country since 1998, which also falls within Langer’s current contract. There will be the need to split coaches during that period with a brief T20I series in New Zealand during March, the same situation that was set to occur last season before the South Africa tour was postponed.
Recent Match Report – South Z (BD) vs Cent Z (BD) Final 2021/22
Bowlers, Al-Amin shine as Central beat South by six wickets after bowling them out for 163
Central Zone 164 for four (Al-Amin 53 not out, Mizanur 39, Ahmed 3 for 32) beat South Zone 163 all out (Pinak 35) by six wickets
Asked to bat first, South Zone were bowled out for 163 runs in 48.5 overs. They gave away a good start as they slipped to 99 for four after Anamul Haque and Pinak Ghosh added 51 for the opening stand. Nahidul Islam’s 31 took them past the 150-mark.
Captain Mosaddek was later adjudged the Player-of-the-Match and the Player-of-the-Series for scoring 148 runs and taking six wickets in the tournament. Imrul Kayes was the only batter to score more than 150 runs in the competition while Soumya was one of the four bowlers to take seven wickets.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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