South Africa's middle-order Test batsman Temba Bavuma has moved from Cape Cobras to the Highveld Lions ahead of the upcoming domestic season.
Bavuma, originally from the Western Province, spent his entire professional career upcountry but moved back to the Cobras for the 2017-18 summer, even though he rarely played for the side owing to international commitments.
"I made the decision to ply my trade for Cape Cobras to fulfill a childhood dream of donning the blue colours, but there have been developments in my personal life that have led me to reconsider that decision," Bavuma said. "I recently got engaged and feel that with my fianc in Johannesburg it's the favourable thing to do."
Bavuma spent most of his time with the Cobras playing T20 cricket, where he scored 195 runs in 10 matches. He featured in just one first-class and one fifty-over fixture for the team. An opportunity to open the batting in List A cricket in a bid to push for an ODI berth, ESPNcricinfo understands, was one of the reasons for Bavuma to move to the Cobras last season.
Now, it remains to be seen if Lions will have a spot for him up the order. However, with their trophy cabinet bare after a tough previous season, they will welcome a player of Bavuma's experience.
"We welcome Temba back with open arms. He is a player with special skills, experience and a star of his calibre is hard to find," Greg Fredericks, Lions CEO said. "We did not have the best of seasons, so it is a step in the right direction to have him back in our system."
Bavuma's decision also comes at a time when the six franchises are scrambling to secure player contracts that have been delayed because Cricket South Africa and the South African Cricketers' Association are yet to agree upon a new MOU. Unless an interim agreement is formulated between both parties by the end of April, most of South Africa's professional cricketers, including those from the national team, will be out of contracts.
In March, CSA announced the names of the 18 players who they intend to contract, but those won't come into effect without a binding MOU. Although the situation remains tense, a temporary agreement is expected to be put in place to avoid a player walkout and non-payment of May salaries.
Since Bavuma is among those awarded a national contract, he is allowed to choose the domestic franchise he'd like to represent. The Lions, therefore, will not have to contract Bavuma. None of South Africa's six franchises have been able to announce their contracted player lists and no other players have made public any intentions to change domestic teams.