“Temba is not a great physical state. He was ready to bat at every turn. We kept monitoring it. You put something out there, I don’t know if the opposition will pick up on it,” Shukri Conrad, South Africa’s coach, said.
“Certain things are tactical. We felt the potential risk… there is a potential risk he could aggravate. He will have it assessed in two weeks time. He is definitely out for Cape Town. Zubayr Hamza will join the squad.
“Since Bavuma’s injury occurred, on the first morning of the match, there had been no communication from team management on whether he would take any further part in the match and when South Africa batted, there was no clarity on if Bavuma would bat.”
Conrad described the situation as “fluid,” and said if South Africa had lost quick wickets on the third morning, Bavuma probably would have batted. But, once their lead grew to more than 150 runs, they decided they were in a comfortable enough position not to need Bavuma, and were proved right in that.
“We were constantly giving ourselves maximum time so we could give out the right information,” Conrad said. “If we lost wickets early, he would have walked on. With 150 runs ahead, I felt it wasn’t neccessary to risk Temba.”
Conrad also put to bed conversations that his relationship with Elgar had turned sour, after Elgar was removed as captain when Conrad took over and has since decided to retire. “If there was this frosty relationship, then he wouldn’t have captained,” Conrad said.
Bavuma had suffered a strain to his left hamstring in the first session of the Boxing Day Test against India, immediately putting his participation in the match in doubt. Bavuma left the field in the 20th over and was sent for a scan soon after. A Cricket South Africa statement said he will “undergo daily medical evaluations to determine” if he will play any further role in the match.
This was Bavuma’s first outing since South Africa’s semi-final at the 50-over World Cup against Australia on November 16, where he was carrying a right hamstring strain. Bavuma picked up that injury while fielding in their final group match against Afghanistan in Ahmedabad on November 10, but did not leave the field at any stage and batted for 49 minutes as South Africa successfully chased 245. He did not have a scan in India but progressed with a rehabilitation program at training and was cleared to play the semi-final, even though he conceded that he was not 100% fit. South Africa lost that match by three wickets.
Bavuma was rested from their next assignment of three T20Is and three ODIs against India which started on December 10 and was due to play a four-day first-class match between December 14 and 17 to prepare for the Test series. He missed the game because of a family bereavement. On the eve of the Test Bavuma declared himself, “mentally as fresh as ever,” and he was a strong presence in the field for the first 90 minutes of play (which started half an hour late after overnight rain).