Cape Town – There was a point yesterday that nobody cared about first innings scores or deficits.
Instead it was the efforts of two men with the bat that proved to be the big talking points on day four of the second Test against England here as Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma capped off a good day for the hosts here at Newlands.
By the time stumps was called the tourists had just started their second stint and were 16/0 with a lead of 18 after the Proteas declared on 627/7.
The morning belonged to Amla has he worked his way towards a double century, the fourth time he’s passed that mark and the second he’s done so against this opposition and his eventual demise shortly after lunch would bring the day’s next star to the crease.
When Bavuma, who grew up in Langa, walked to the wicket his side still trailed by 190 runs and then two further wickets fell and suddenly there was plenty of pressure on the batsman and his partner at the other end, Chris Morris, as the visitors got a sniff.
But the diminutive right-hander would be equal to the task, taking 52 deliveries to get to a second Test half-century before making history late in the day by becoming the first black African cricketer to score a Test century for South Africa.
“I am born here. This is where I learnt cricket, the passion grew from here. Having been able to a chief this milestone at my favourite ground it makes it extra special,” Bavuma said of his feat.
He would eventually end, not out, on 102.
The first half of his innings included some classy stroke making. Shots on both side of the wicket saw him score 11 boundaries – the pull and cover drive two weapons of choice – in the first half of his knock.
While he slowed his scoring rate as he edged towards the three figure milestone he showed the type of attributes required to be a successful batsman at this format. He was thoughtful without being too defensive and attacking without being silly about it. He was brilliant.
“When I got to 80 it kind of felt that I was on nought again. I think Stuart Broad was bowling and I found him site tough. I tried to do a couple of things just to unsettle him but he just kept on nagging on that good length.
“I thought to myself if I don’t get to that milestone maybe it just wants meant to be. I just tried tot are it ball by ball and luckily at the end things came through on my side.”
“A lot of satisfaction obviously just getting that first hundred. I’ve been yearning for it. Been fighting for it,” Bavuma said of his achievement. It was a feat that lit up social media, so much so that the hashtag Bavuma trended on Twitter.
“Just getting that one under the belt and just looking forward to the future ones if they do come. For me it’s just satisfaction and relief.”
It helped that the man at the other end was someone who he has spent a lot of time playing franchise cricket before Morris completed a move across the Juksei to the Titans.
The pair would eventually go on to break a record that dates back to 1927 by registering 167 which is now the highest ever seventh wicket partnership for South Africa. Morris would eventually end his maiden innings in Test cricket with a well-played 69.
The significance of his achievement is not lost on Bavuma and he’s likely to have inspired a number of kids to pick up their bats in the hope of one day emulating their hero.
“Whenever I go back to Langa now I know that I;m going to have those kids running around me.Theres a grater significance about it and there’s a lot of pressure but then again it’s international cricket
“Everyone faces different pressures whatever they may be. It’s part and parcel of the game. It comes in different forms and you’ve just got to find a way to deal with it. It can be a positive at times,” said of his place in history.