Temba Bavuma to lead defending champions Jozi Stars in MSL 2019
Temba Bavuma will captain Jozi Stars in the second edition of the Mzansi Super League, which starts on Friday. Bavuma joined the squad this season after playing for Durban Heat in the inaugural edition and succeeds Dane Vilas, who led the Stars to the title last summer.
Bavuma's appointment is another nod to his leadership credentials, which include captaining the Lions in all formats last season and taking charge of the South Africa A side in India on their recent tour. Bavuma is also the Test vice-captain and is increasingly being seen as a successor to current captain Faf du Plessis in the longest format.
That said, Bavuma - like his team-mates - had a poor time of it in India during the Test series recently.
He was promoted to No. 4, and then brought back to No. 5, but managed scores of only 18, 0, 8, 38, 32 and 0, adding to the pressure already on his 29-year-old shoulders. After scoring back-to-back fifties in only his third Test and then scoring a maiden Test century in his seventh Test - he hasn't reached three figures since - Bavuma has averaged only 31.24 from 39 Tests, well below what the expectations from him at the start of his international career were.
"A lot of guys are under pressure [in the Test team], it's not just Temba," Quinton de Kock, the captain of Cape Town Blitz in the MSL, said. "A guy like Temba is now been seen as playing all three formats and I'm sure he will play MSL to try and get his confidence back.
"Temba has played enough cricket and he is old enough now - it's not like we are dealing with a youngster - he has gone through the ups and downs of playing professional cricket. Temba is a relatively good space. He didn't score the runs he would have wanted to but I think he understands what he needs to get done to be at his peak again."
Apart from being South Africa's flagship T20 tournament, the MSL is also an important part of the pipeline for identifying talent for the international arena. Last season's top scorer, Rassie van der Dussen, earned a call up to the ODI team, but this season the focus seems to be on captaincy. While Bavuma is being groomed for leadership at the Stars, de Kock, who is also being touted as a future national captain, was on Monday unveiled as the Cape Town Blitz skipper.