LONDON – Individual honours come naturally to Kagiso Rabada. Only 24-years-old, the fast bowler is already a two-time CSA Player of the Year recipient.
It was only natural to expect that Rabada would be challenging for the highest wicket-taker honours at the World Cup. His red-hot form in the IPL before arriving in the United Kingdom certainly shortened the odds.
Nobody would then have imagined that Rabada would snare only six wickets in seven matches at an average of 50.06. It is much like the sharp-shooters in the English Premier League that dominate the domestic season for their respective clubs, but arrive at global events in June and July weary and unable to live up to their high-profile billing.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis was certainly wary of his spearhead suffering from burn out, and tried to address the issue with a request for Rabada to miss the IPL. That obviously fell on deaf ears, with Rabada only returning to South Africa shortly before the IPL playoffs after instruction from Cricket SA’s medical team.
“We did try and get him not to go - to try and stay and get fresh. Then when he went there, we were like, let’s try and get him back halfway through the IPL because it’s important, not just for him, but a few other players,” Du Plessis said.
“I spoke about it before the IPL even started, that it’s important that we try and find space to rest our three-format players, because they play all the formats all the time, and then IPL. So I don’t think it’s necessarily just the IPL, but it was important for a few guys to rest; and the fact that they didn’t meant that they came into the tournament not fresh. That’s not an excuse; that’s just a fact.”
Rabada, who has a R9.8million contract with the Delhi Daredevils, admitted there was talk of him leaving the IPL earlier but he did not want to be drawn into why it actually never worked out that way.
“The plan was to leave (the IPL) early, but that didn’t work out, don’t ask me about any of that,” the fast bowler said.
“To rest up prior to the World Cup, for obvious reasons like injury, to be fresh coming into an important tournament. Eventually I (did) come back earlier.”
Du Plessis, though, is confident that Rabada will survive this mental test, and in fact, come back stronger because of this merciless learning experience.
“KG at the moment is feeling like he needs to do something, but it’s not happening for him; and therefore you’re not seeing that same intensity when he bowls - or not bowls; or when he celebrates a wicket or when he’s going through after the over back to his mark,” the skipper said.
“He’s a great bowler. He will be able to fix that. His career has been one that’s been just going up and up and up every time he’s played for us.
This is probably his first stumbling block as a great fast bowler, so for him now, it will be how he responds, how he learns in this period and how he makes sure he gets better.”