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20 Sport CRICKET

The Mail on Sunday January 10, 2016


The doors of township cricket are open now... ant to be Temba

Road to fame and fortune CRICKET is thriving on the streets of Langa, Cape Town’s oldest township, after Temba Bavuma’s breakthrough century against England at Newlands. Joining this impromptu game are musician and fan Andile Kraai (far right)

All the boys w


From John Young IN CAPE TOWN


T the crossroads on Rubusana Avenue, the cricket-mad boys of Langa township play with a makeshift bat and a taped tennis ball, and even here they could never get Temba Bavuma out. Though he was barely six years old, half the age of many playing in the road they dubbed Newlands, after the famous South African ground a few miles away where the still tiny Bavuma last week became the first black African to score a Test hundred, he would not give up his wicket easily. Langa resident Andile Kraai, now a musician, stands on the scruffy kerb as an impromptu game is struck up with two crates for a wicket and the memories flood back from 20 years ago. ‘He was a good batsman, he used to stay there for hours,’ said Kraai. ‘Some of us would go and eat and come back, and he was still batting. ‘We had to swear at him to get his mind off, or just bully him. He would not get out, so we just took the bat from him. He was a very confident young fellow with beautiful shots. You can ask anyone who used to play with him, they will tell you the same story. He was always like this. ‘He had to play with the big boys. England’s bowlers chirping him is nothing compared to what we gave him.’ Now Bavuma, 5ft 3in and 25 years old, is the giant new hero of black Africans across the country, in a sport still wrestling with the effects of apartheid and the controversial ‘targets’ or quotas applied to try to get more black players into domestic teams and at international level. When he retained his place at Newlands after a poor first Test, he was viewed by many as a token

First black batsman’s ton against England is already inspiring host of new kids to light up South African game selection, picked ahead of JP Duminy to ensure black African representation. But his dashing 141-ball century against England, which helped save South Africa after Ben Stokes’s extraordinary innings, is still reverberating around the country. ‘I feel like I won something,’ added Kraai. ‘I feel like I have reached some of my dreams. Even though he did it, I feel like it is a milestone for me. That hundred — for me it was like a dream come true.’ Bavuma’s first coach, Ezra Cagwe, at the well-kept Langa Cricket Club, one street away from Rubusana Avenue, feels the same. But he knew a long time ago that his pupil was destined for great things. Bavuma first came to him as a seven-year-old who could barely see over his pads. They once put on 95 together to win a match for Langa third XI and after a game when Bavuma was 13, a white opponent came to congratulate him, saying: ‘I want to shake the hand of a batsman who is going to play for South Africa one day.’ Cagwe, who watched the historic innings from the North Stand at Newlands where he works as Cape Town’s development officer, said: ‘When he got his hundred I was very excited. The doors of township cricket are opened now. All those

HOME HERO: Bavuma celebrates on his way to 102 not out

little boys, they are going to be Temba, not AB [de Villiers, the team’s best batsman and now captain]. Today they have got a hero. ‘When he was young, Temba had a very, very big heart. He was greedy to play the game. Every match, any touring match, he was available to play and play and play. He played in the men’s league as a young boy. His armguard, it was like a thigh pad for him because some of the balls would come up his arms. But it did not make him scared.’ Race is still a big issue in South Africa — and in their cricket. Earlier this season, a group of black Africans wrote to the game’s administrators complaining that black players were being picked for

tours and then relegated merely to watercarrying duties. The governing body have changed the rules in first-class cricket to insist that every team must have six ‘players of colour’, of whom three must be black African. In the Test team, the target is four players of colour. Bavuma is the first black African batsman to play Test cricket for South Africa, 21 years after they were readmitted to the international fold. Paceman Makhaya Ntini led the way but his successors have all been bowlers, except for Thami Tsolekile, a wicketkeeper, who is

also from the same street in Langa. Bavuma was born in 1990, the year Nelson Mandela was released, in a one-storey brick house in Langa with an outside toilet and communal tap. The oldest township in the city, Langa was established in the 1920s after black dock workers were moved out of central Cape Town, unfairly blamed for the bubonic plague. Between 60,000 and 80,000 residents crammed into one square mile and even in Bavuma’s early years it was reported to be ‘desperately overcrowded’. His father Vuyo was a journalist on the Cape Argus, but it was through the family of his mother, Sonkyile, where the love of cricket came. Two of her brothers played at a good level with one, Tengo, chairman of Langa CC. Bavuma’s cricket development followed an established pattern. As a Xhosa, he was from a tradition of playing cricket since the English missionaries visited the Eastern Cape in the 19th century. Rubusana Avenue and the neighbouring, equally cricket-crazy Harlem Avenue produced seven South African Schools’ caps in the Nineties and early 2000s. Their street cricket games were outside the house of Ben Malamba, the great double-Springbok who played in Basil D’Oliveira’s non-racial South African team of the 1950s. One of Malamba’s sons, Rodney, played with Mike Procter for Natal. Bavuma also went to excellent cricketing schools. In Cape Town, it

January 10, 2016

The Mail on Sunday








Picture courtesy of: INVESTEC RHINO LIFELINE

READ HIM ONLY IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY BOWLED OVER: Broad (left), Finn, and Stuart’s girlfriend Bealey Mitchell stroke a tagged rhino

They couldn’t get him out. We’d go to eat and when we came back, he’d still be batting FACE OF ACHIEVEMENT: Bavuma has a street mural in his honour (left) while Ezra Cagwe (below) remembers teaching Temba at 13, with a thigh pad as arm guard

was SACS Junior School, while in Johannesburg it was St David’s College when his family moved north after Vuyo got a job on the Star newspaper. Now he has grown up and become a Test player, Bavuma does not shy away from the big question. ‘When I made my debut for South Africa I became more aware and realised the significance of it all,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t just about me making my debut, but being a role model and inspiration for other black African kids to aspire to. Achieving this milestone will strengthen that example. ‘I am born and bred in Cape Town, this is where I learned my cricket. My passion grew here. Being able to achieve this milestone at my

favourite ground in the world makes it a bit more special. ‘At Newlands I looked at the kids who were there for the KFC Mini cricket festival at lunch. Half of those kids come from Langa and half of them know my name. Whenever I go back to Langa I know I’m going to have those kids running around me. There is a greater significance, a lot of pressure, but it is international cricket.’ Tsolekile and his team-mates in the Langa men’s first XI used to wander across to watch the Under12s, especially if little ‘Sachin’ was batting. Now that he is in the spotlight, Tsolekile says that Bavuma must know ‘every time he crosses the rope he is not alone. We are with him’.

Some more grounds for celebration Temba Bavuma produced a moment to remember when he became the first black player to score a Test century for South Africa. The third Test at The Wanderers will provide another when Bethuel Buthelezi unveils his first international pitch. Buthelezi, head groundsman at the Johannesburg venue, is looking forward to his big day when the third match of the series starts on Thursday. The

51-year-old started working at the ground in 1984, cleaning the tennis courts and swimming pool. Chris Scott, who made way for Buthelezi in November, saw his successor’s potential at a time when opportunities for the black majority were restricted by Apartheid. ‘Bethuel has been my assistant for 22 years,’ says Scott. ‘I’m very happy he’s the one who’s taking over

from me. We’ve always had mutual respect.’ Buthelezi, only the second black South African to prepare a Test pitch after Wilson Ngobese at Kingsmead in Durban, promises The Wanderers will be far more challenging to batsmen than Newlands. Of the pitch, traditionally the most pace-friendly in the world along with the WACA at Perth, he said: ‘It will be quick.’

Visit to reserve hits sweet spot but now for really big game


T has been a really special tour of South Africa so far, a tour where we as a team are on the verge of doing something truly remarkable — but it’s not just out in the middle where incredible memories are being made. Straight after the second Test, Steve Finn and I had the chance as guests of Investec Rhino Lifeline to go to the Shamwari Game Reserve to see some of the extraordinary conservation work taking place there. Watching the anti-poaching unit go about their work, the passion shown by the rangers and the care they show was so humbling. The game drives were amazing. We saw lionesses, elephants, black and white rhinos — and it was the work with the rhinos that was unforgettable. We assisted experienced wildlife vet Dr Johan Joubert and anti-poaching expert Dr Rodney Visser as they carried out a DNA and tagging procedure on a young male white rhino. These complex procedures are vital in the effort to track and protect the animals from sophisticated poachers. We were even able to stroke the rhino when the work was done. It was only two but weighed well over a ton. You get a bit of a bond when you see something so vulnerable and so beautiful. It was an emotional experience and it is nice to know it was being done for such a fantastic cause. Rhino poaching is something we are not overly educated about here but it is a real issue. It was a welcome break in such a tough schedule. That is the first time I’ve been involved in back-to-back Tests. You normally have three days between games and that is hard work, but to have two was a real test. Fortunately, we were spared a full day in the field on day five in Durban by bowling so well on the final morning. But the bowlers certainly had to toil in Cape Town, which was one for the batsmen. Everyone was talking about Ben Stokes’s double hundred and

rightly so, but don’t forget Jonny Bairstow’s debut ton. He showed plenty of skill in not getting carried away while Ben was at the other end whacking sixes. Stokesy wouldn’t have been able to play that innings had Jonny not stayed with him. The atmosphere in the changing room viewing area was almost surreal. Normally a boundary would get a big cheer or a clap, but some of his strikes were greeted with silence, almost shock. He struck some sixes that were so big and powerful that it didn’t feel like they could go in the area he was smashing them. The only downside was that it did not lead to victory, though no team should lose on that wicket.


he upshot is that we’re in a dream position heading to the third Test in Johannesburg. Winning the first match was very special because England’s record of winning opening away Tests is poor and everyone has grown into the series, chipping in with fifties here, wickets there. So there is no reason why we should not go to the Wanderers and expect guys to flourish. Someone like Ben or Jonny will be very high on confidence but so too will Nick Compton, who has come back and given the team a real calmness at No 3. The bowlers have created chances as well but we know we must improve our catching if we are to win the series. But we’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position against the world’s No 1 team on their own patch and this is not a chance to throw away. We are aware of how tough South Africa are to beat and we know we need to ramp up all aspects of our game this week. But it is a great chance for us to do something special. It’s a long road to get to be the best test team in the world — and we’re at the start of that road. We know we will only get there if we can win big series away from home which is why we are so determined to take this opportunity.

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