Temba Bavuma wants to make the No. 4 spot in South Africa's Test batting line-up his own, following the retirement of AB de Villiers. Bavuma, who is part of South Africa's squad for their tour of Sri Lanka, has only batted at that position five times, having spent most of his 29-Test career at No. 6.
"I will be opportunistic because there is a spot open for someone to come in at No. 4 and I am putting up my hand for that position‚" Bavuma said at a training camp in Pretoria on Tuesday. "Hopefully the selectors are looking towards me. But, if not, wherever they want me to play I will try to execute as best as possible."
Bavuma first batted at No. 4 against England at Old Trafford in August 2017, making 46 and 12 in a 177-run loss that gave England the series 3-1. He continued to occupy that position during South Africa's next Test assignment, a home series against Bangladesh, but hasn't batted there since. In his brief time at No. 4, he has averaged 41.75 as against a career average of 34.87.
"I had the opportunity in England and I quite enjoyed it even though it was a tough Test match and series‚" he said. "I enjoyed the responsibility, and in a way it is something that could help my game because I have not been able to convert most of my starts. Coming in at No. 4‚ the opportunity is there to score those big runs and it goes hand in hand with what I am trying to achieve. But the decision rests with the selectors‚ the coach and the captain."
South Africa will play two Tests in Sri Lanka, with the first one starting on July 12 and the second on July 20. On what are expected to be spin-friendly pitches, Bavuma said strike rotation would be crucial.
"Playing on the subcontinent is different from playing here at home because spin becomes a key thing‚" he said. "You must be able to rotate off the spin and also to hit boundaries. It is about familiarising yourself to the challenges where the ball will be spinning and you must have a game plan for that. I have never been to Sri Lanka but I will try to make it a good one for myself and the team."