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'Feelings of almost being let down' - Temba Bavuma on not being picked for SA20

South Africa white-ball captain "expected" to be part of the new T20 league, but for now he's sticking to the task at hand: in India and at the World Cup

Ashish Pant
Temba Bavuma ahead of the match, England vs South Africa, T20 World Cup 2021, Sharjah, November 6, 2021

Temba Bavuma went unsold at the SA20 auction earlier this week  •  ICC/Getty Images

Temba Bavuma has spoken of his "disappointment" and having felt "let down" at not being picked in the inaugural SA20 auction earlier this week. Bavuma, the South Africa limited-overs captain, had set his base price at Rand 850,000 (US$48,000 approx.) but did not find any takers each time his name came up - he was part of the auction's accelerated rounds after going unsold the first time.
"I'll be lying if I said that I didn't have any feelings of disappointment," Bavuma said while talking to reporters ahead of South Africa's departure for a white-ball tour of India.
"I certainly was expecting to play a role in the tournament. From my side, there are definitely feelings of disappointment and also feelings of almost being let down in a way. I don't think that comes from any point of entitlement from my side."
Bavuma formally took charge of South Africa's limited-overs side in March last year and has so far led the country in 13 ODIs and 17 T20Is. He has, however, been out of international action since South Africa's T20I tour to India in June due to an injured elbow.
A rare case of a national white-ball captain not getting picked in his country's T20 league, Bavuma indicated that he had more to say on the issue but that, for now, he would rather focus on the task ahead: the India tour followed by the T20 World Cup in Australia.
"I am cautioning myself to not delve too deep into this whole matter," Bavuma said. "As much as I'd like to speak more about it, this is probably not the right time. Our focus right now is on India and the World Cup. We are doing what we need to do there."
"The guys in the team, our friendship, our relationship goes far beyond just being team-mates. We are friends off the field. The guys just being there in terms of their presence for me has been enough."
Temba Bavuma says his national team-mates have his back
Mark Boucher, the outgoing South Africa head coach, was coy on Bavuma's non-selection for the SA20, but insisted that the entire team was firmly behind their captain.
"Temba Bavuma is our leader, and I back him 100%," Boucher said. "Yes, there is a lot of talk on social media about all the stuff, about this and that; I don't really care. He is our leader, and we back him in this team like you can't believe.
"The guys were there last night, we were having a couple of drinks, and I could just see the energy around him because I understand the situation he is going through. The bottom line is we are on a journey, and we have been on a journey the last two years."
Boucher, who will join Mumbai Indians (whose owners also own a team in the SA20) as head coach after he leaves his current post, also said that while he respected the SA20 league and the selection processes in it, it was necessary to separate the national team from the various T20 leagues.
"One thing I can say is that leagues, they come and go, and I am in full understanding and respect of this new league that has come up. I think it is needed. But let's separate the national team from the league," he said.
"What happens in leagues and auctions, you can't control that; unfortunately, it is what it is. From a Proteas perspective, we do back him 100% and going into a massive tournament like a [T20] World Cup, he will be a massive part of our team."
While Bavuma agreed with Boucher's statement about the group being behind him, he also insisted he was not expecting any sort of sympathy nor does he have to prove anything to anyone.
"The guys in the team, our friendship, our relationship goes far beyond just being team-mates," he said. "We are friends off the field. The guys just being there in terms of their presence for me has been enough. I don't expect words of sympathy or anything like that.
"The biggest thing for me is to serve the team as best as I can. I still have the responsibility of being the captain of the team. I would endeavour to do the best as I can, as I believe I have been doing."

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo