JOHANNESBURG – Kagiso Rabada knows he’s not played to the high standard he demands of himself in the Mzansi Super League.
“He’s admitted, he’s slowly getting into it,” said Rabada’s coach at the Jozi Stars, Enoch Nkwe.
Rabada, who reclaimed Test cricket’s No 1 bowler ranking this week, is entitled to a couple of bad games.
But when the team he’s playing for have won just one of their first four matches, then it has to be hoped by teammates and the coaching staff that it is not the start of a slump that they’re all witnessing.
“From a coach’s point of view I’m seeing a lot of improvement, the small steps he’s taking forward,” Nkwe remarked.
The Stars coach has also overseen some intense technical sessions with his fast bowling ace in which he’s been tinkering with parts of his action.
Just a few days after joining the Stars following the South African team’s tour of Australia, Rabada had requested to watch videos of him bowling at practice from different angles.
Nkwe described those as being minor technical things he was looking at.
“He’s been working hard, bowling a lot of overs, working on specific skills in the nets and on the mental side,” Nkwe explained yesterday.
As yet, that practice has not borne fruit. Rabada was taken to the cleaners by Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan of the Cape Town Blitz last Saturday and admitted afterwards he just didn’t get it right, although he was put under huge pressure by the Blitz openers.
Against the Spartans on Wednesday, there was a marked improvement – he set up and then executed the perfect plan to Gihahn Cloete, with a wonderful yorker.
Rabada effectively controlled the PowerPlay for the two overs he bowled in that period.
Two key overs in the latter stages of the Spartans’ chase proved crucial, however, with a fortuitous top-edge four by Sean Williams, which helped get the required target into single figures for the home team, a bitter blow for both Rabada and the Stars.
Can our #JoziStars boys repeat our beautiful win against @Paarl_Rocks from earlier in the @MSL_T20 tournament? ✨#FlashbackFriday #FridayFeeling #JoziStars #IgnitingExcellence pic.twitter.com/QrxqpekRVx— Jozi Stars (@StarsJozi) November 30, 2018
“Those first two overs against the Spartans were very good and at the back-end, well, it takes just a few balls (for things to go wrong).
“You can see how it’s all building up. He’s been superb in the team, he’s brought a lot of confidence to the other guys.
“But we can’t just look at him. We need to look at other bowlers who can contribute and help the team to win.”
If that last sentence sounds like an attempt by a coach to relieve pressure on his superstar player, it is the support acts at the Stars who have actually performed well.
Off-spinner Simon Harmer and left-arm quick Beuran Hendricks have taken six wickets each, and kept a reign on the opposition batsmen scoring with economy rates under eight an over, Harmer conceding at a rate of a run a ball.
The onus really is on Rabada, then, to deliver, and tonight at the Wanderers against the Durban Heat (7pm) would be the perfect time to do so.
The Stars hit the road for three matches next week, and desperately need a lift on home soil before that journey.@shockerhess