JOHANNESBURG – Not so long ago, Kagiso Rabada’s name was on everyone’s lips when talk turned to the future of international fast bowling.
His statistics indicate a top performer - 176 Test wickets at an average of 21.77, with a strike rate (balls bowled per wicket) of 38.8. He’s also taken 117 ODI wickets at 27.34, and 25 wickets in 19 T20 Internationals.
That Test strike rate, is the fourth best of all time - two of the bowlers ahead of him played in the 19th century, when pitches were left uncovered, outfields were thicker and boundaries were bigger.
By any measure Rabada is a modern day great. However, just at the moment, his name seems to have been forgotten when talk of fast bowling takes place around braais, at bars or in salons.
The flavours of the month in September 2019 are Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins and Jofra Archer.
They all had good to outstanding World Cup tournaments and have followed that up with more eye-catching performances in recent Test matches in which they’ve participated.
Rabada described his World Cup tournament as being just “OK”. He looked worn down having carried a heavy burden across all three formats at international level in the last three years.
“It’s never easy maintaining a career, I’ve learned that there are a lot of ups and downs. I want to be the best in the world, everybody does.
“You are naturally going to compete in that fashion, I’m not too worried, I’m feeling nice and easy,” said Rabada, about currently not being at the forefront of the young fast bowling brigade.
The 24-year-old has also not been playing since the World Cup, which given how that tournament unfolded for him is no bad thing. He said this week he felt mentally refreshed after a break that included no cricket balls being picked up or even thought of and just a bit of time spent in the gym.
“I’m disappointed not angry (about the World Cup). What do I do with anger? When a setback comes you want to be determined, you don’t want to change a lot of things it’s about seeing where you went wrong and then putting in extra work.”
He is ready to prove himself once again and get his name back in the fast bowling conversation.
“I admire those bowlers, they are good bowlers. However the media hypes certain players, and that’s Ok, I know I have been playing very well. Archer is such a natural talent, Bumrah is doing wonders and that can force you to lift your game. You are not always at the top, that’s one thing I can tell you.”
A re-energised and motivated Rabada will be vital for South Africa on their tour to India that starts in Dharamshala on September 15, with the first of three T20 Internationals, against Virat Kohli’s team, followed by a three match Test series.
Following Dale Steyn’s retirement from the Test arena, there is no more doubting who the leader of the South African attack is. South Africa’s poor record in Test matches in the sub-continent in the last four years, Steyn and Hashim Amla’s retirement and the creation of a new structure around the national team will add to the burden on Rabada’s shoulders over the next few weeks.
* All-rounder George Linde was added to the Proteas T20 squad on Thursday in place of Jon-Jon Smuts who “failed to meet the team’s fitness standards”.
The 27 year old left-arm spinner, has been a mainstay in the Cape Cobras team in recent seasons.
Linde is already in India with the SA A side and will join up with the rest of the Proteas, who arrive there tomorrow.