South Africa captain Temba Bavuma is eager to get game time on the tour of India, followed by visiting Australia in the coming two months, to score runs and get his confidence back after admittedly enduring a frustrating three months on the sidelines due to elbow injury.
South Africa leave for a six-match tour to India on Friday where they will face the hosts in three T20Is and as many ODIs, starting from Thiruvananthapuram on September 28. They will then head straight to Australia for the T20 World Cup (October 16 to November 13).
Bavuma and the rest of his team have spent the last few days in Cape Town, where they have been doing team building. The skipper has been out of action since picking up an elbow injury against India in the fourth T20I at Rajkot in June, a blow that forced him to miss the Proteas' multi-format tour to England.
"We want to get the guys into form, most of them have been in form but guys like me, I've been out of action for the past three months so now I'm looking forward to that. Personally, I just want to be out there on the park and using that opportunity to get game time, to get runs behind me and to get the confidence back," said Bavuma ahead of his team's departure to India.
Bavuma also spoke about how frustrating it was for him to miss South Africa's T20 series wins over England and Ireland. "The last few months have been the toughest from an injury point of view. It was definitely frustrating. Going through that period not really knowing when I was going to recover with my elbow, it was quite difficult mentally."
"But I'm here now, my elbow feels good, I obviously opted against the surgery, but I'm excited and blessed to have the opportunity again to run out there for the Proteas."Bavuma went on to hint that the side which will play white-ball matches in India may not be the same eleven to feature in next month's T20 World Cup. South Africa, who missed the semifinals of last year's T20 World Cup on the basis of Net Run Rate, are placed alongside India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and two yet-to-be-determined teams in Group 2 of Super 12.
"There may be other guys as well not yet in the right form, so it's about getting them to where they need to be at. We also need to finalise that final XI. We have a good idea of what that team will look like, but also considering the fact that conditions in India are different to those in Australia. So the side we probably play in Australia won't necessarily be the one in India."
Asked whether South Africa's exciting brand of cricket may change when head coach Mark Boucher leaves his role after the T20 World Cup to be head coach of five-time IPL winners Mumbai Indians, Bavuma remarked, "It's difficult to look that far into the future. We're just focused on the now at the moment and that is on the tour to India."
"The focus is also on filling the gaps that need to be filled in terms of preparation, also in terms of getting the guys into form leading up to the World Cup and making sure we keep holding on to our confidence and belief as a unit. That's where the focus is right now."
Bavuma signed off by saying Boucher's departure gave the Proteas further incentive to perform well in Australia. "We obviously have the situation of the coach who will be leaving the team after the World Cup and I guess that's an extra bit of motivation for us as a unit with everything that is already there."
"What happens after the World Cup is quite hard to talk about. In terms of the brand of play I don't see that changing. I think the language that we've been speaking as a team has been quite consistent over the last 18 months, so I don't see that changing. The coach will leave, but his taste and brand on the team that is with us at the moment, that will continue."