By Mark Gleeson
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Tiny Temba Bavuma scored his maiden test century for South Africa on Tuesday and suggested English sledging helped him reaching the landmark.
The 25-year-old was 102 not out when the hosts declared on 627 for seven late on the fourth day as the second test headed for a draw.
The cheers that greeted the milestone, which came after an entertaining knock of just 141 balls, raised the roof at Newlands.
“They were words of encouragement if I can put it politely. The (English) guys did say a lot but I think it was all in the spirit of the game,” Bavuma told reporters.
“Maybe it assisted me to knuckle down out there. I kind of enjoyed it. It was almost like being back at school where guys used to come hard at me because I was short.”
Standing five foot six inches tall, Bavuma is playing his seventh test and his innings will be a major boost for South African cricket as the authorities try to ensure the racial make-up of the team is more reflective of the country’s society.
“I am quite relieved, full of emotion and very satisfied from a personal and team point of view,” Bavuma said.
“I’ve been wanting to cross off that first test hundred and to do it at my favourite ground was extra special.”
Bavuma was born not far from Newlands in the black African township of Langa.
“I think pressure is always there and as young guy I’m at start of my international carer and I really want to make use of the chances I’ve been given as well as make a mark for myself,” he said. His parents missed his debut against the West Indies at the same ground one year ago but flew in from their holiday to watch him this time.
“I’m sure that moment was full of emotion for them too,” he said. Bavuma, 25, waited for almost six hours before getting his chance as captain Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis batted South Africa out of danger in a marathon partnership.
“I slept a bit on the balcony for some of those hours and I just tried to keep clam and wait for my opportunity and enjoy the success of the guys out there,” he said.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)