Cape Town — Former Proteas bowling coach Vincent Barnes believes there is no need to worry about Kagsio Rabada’s current form and that the Proteas talisman will lift himself for the World Cup in India later this year.
Regularly among the leading wicket-takers at the Indian Premier League, Rabada has had a quiet 2023 season.
The Proteas fast bowler initially sat out the early part of the competition after the Punjab Kings coaching staff preferred Australian rookie Nathan Ellis, but Rabada has since not been able to find any form of rhythm.
In the five matches that he has played, the 27-year-old has only managed to pick up five wickets at an average of 38.10 at an economy of 10.10. He has gone wicketless in the last two matches against Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals.
Considering the 50-over World Cup will be played at many of the same venues all around India later this year, there have been some concerns raised related to Rabada’s overall white-ball form.
Rabada has just nine T20 International wickets at an average of 54.22 over the past 12 months, while his ODI form for the Proteas is not much better — five wickets at 34.80 - during the same period.
Barnes, though, believes Rabada belongs to that special group of players that are able to raise the level of their performance once the lights of the big stage are turned on.
“I think back to someone like Graeme Smith, how the big occasion would invigorate him, they are just a different animal on the big occasion, and that is so important,” Barnes exclusively told IOL Sport.
“Kagiso is similar to that. He will be ready once the World Cup comes around.”
Barnes recalls a conversation with Rabada back in 2019 that showed him the deep passion the fast bowler has for the Proteas and how he wants to help develop the other members of the fast bowling unit around him.
“I remember having a chat with him back in 2019, when I was back as Proteas bowling coach for the India tour … Enoch (Nkwe) was still Team Director then … and I sat down with him and spoke about his role in the side.
“I have always felt that I needed a leader of the attack. Back in the day Shaun (Pollock) was the natural leader of the attack, and then he moved on, and then I needed Makhaya (Ntini) to step up, and he took on a bit of a different role.
“He wasn’t very technically driven, but his role as a father figure of that attack (Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Andre Nel) he performed very well.
“And speaking to KG, he said that he quite enjoyed that. ‘I want to be that guy’, he said to me.
“Obviously, he still had his own personal goals, with Jofra Archer at the time shooting the lights out, that put pressure on KG, because all KG wanted to be was one of the fastest bowlers in the world.
“But that changes as you get older because you want to be the best, not just the fastest. Jimmy Anderson is still one of the best in the world today.
“And recently speaking to (Proteas Test coach) Shukri (Conrad) where Kagiso is, he is saying the same thing. KG is in good hands.”
*The full exclusive interview with Vincent Barnes will be published on Saturday.