Temba Bavuma will return to Newlands, the scene of his historic maiden Test century, to play his domestic cricket for the 2017-18 season. Bavuma, who is originally from the Western Cape, has spent his entire professional career in Johannesburg but has decided to change franchises ahead of the upcoming summer. Bavuma's switch ends an almost decade-long alliance with Gauteng and the Lions, after his first-class debut in 2008.
For the Cobras, the acquisition of Bavuma is a major coup and adds to their already well stocked international player count. In recent seasons, Wayne Parnell (originally a Warriors player), Hashim Amla (from the Dolphins) and Dale Steyn (from the Titans) have all moved to the franchise, joining Vernon Philander, JP Duminy, Dane Piedt, Stiaan van Zyl, Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt.
However, Bavuma joins the outfit ahead of what is being dubbed South Africa's busiest season yet and with 10 home Tests on the calendar, his availability for the Cobras could be limited. Still, with Bavuma not established in South Africa's limited-overs' teams, the Cobras hope to benefit from some of his spare time.
"South Africa will have a busy Test schedule in 2017/2018 with Test series against Austalia and India on the cards," Ashwell Prince, the Cobras coach, said. "Yet, Temba might still ply his trade in different formats for the Cobras. His experience and enthusiasm will be key factors in lifting the Cobras to new heights in all formats."
Prince took over mid-season after a prolonged player dispute with former coach Paul Adams, which also saw results dwindle. Although the franchise performed better under Prince, they went trophy-less in 2015-16 and chief executive Nabeal Dean believes Bavuma can be an agent of change. "I believe that Temba, when not on international duty, can enhance the Cape Cobras' chances significantly of winning the Sunfoil Series title and even the Momentum One Day Cup campaign," Dean said.
Equally important is the role Bavuma plays as an ambassador for black African players, an area the Cobras, in particular, have struggled to develop. Bavuma, who is from the Langa township just outside of Cape Town, has been involved in several initiatives at Langa Sports Club and through his foundation will be involved even further in the future.
The Lions, on the other hand, have now been depleted even further after losing Quinton de Kock and Chris Morris to the Titans and Neil McKenzie to retirement last season. They have several younger batsmen in their ranks such as Reeza and Dominic Hendricks (no relation) and are expected to sign Omphile Ramela, the Cobras' former first-class captain, who hails from Johannesburg, for the 2017-18 season.