Having completed 2018 as the world’s top-ranked bowler on the ICC Test rankings, it must be a scary thought for the opposition that Kagiso Rabada believes that he can still get even better.
Rabada, 23, bagged a staggering 52 Test wickets at an average of 20.07 last year.
“There are always things you want to improve on. You never really arrive ever. I think it is just the way I am, always looking for places to improve on. But at the same time I have learnt to acknowledge my strengths and realise that things won’t come so quickly.
“There are obviously a few goals that I would like to achieve and the team as well. So, just improving on a few things I can do better than what I did last year,” the Proteas spearhead said here on the eve of the second Test against Pakistan.
This is certainly not welcoming for the tourists, who were rolled over within three days in the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion last week. The visitors’ bating unit, particularly, has been under pressure with senior players such as Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and captain Safraz Ahmed suffering the most criticism.
Their task of levelling the series at Newlands is a mountainous one. Besides the monumental fact that no team from the subcontinent has ever won a Test match at Newlands, the Proteas will also be welcoming back local hero Vernon Philander for the marquee Test of the summer.
Philander’s record at his homeground is the stuff of dreams. Spanning nine Test matches, the Ravensmead Wrecker has claimed 49 wickets at the miserly average of 16.55.
In tandem with Rabada and the ever-green Dale Steyn, South Africa should have enough firepower to attack the Pakistanis, especially with the young tearaway arguably bowling better when he is shouldered with extra responsibility.
“I don’t like to get involved in team selection. It is not my place. It is a headache, but a good headache to have,” Rabada said. “But I guess in a way when you are thrown in the deep end and there is just two seamers if a bowler gets injured, you do have more of a load and you do have more of a responsibility.”
Equally, Rabada showed last year that he not does only strike when the red Kookaburra is gleaming in his hand, but crucially too when he returns for his second and third spells later in the day. And it is often these invigorating spells that have cracked open Tests for the Proteas.
“Sometimes you can bowl well, like at Centurion, when we bowled well at the beginning but nothing was happening. You just have to stay persistent,” he said.
“But a large part of that is also just your will. Just that bit inside of you that gets you going. When it comes, it comes. The game speeds up out of nowhere. When we picked up wickets, we just kept going and our persistence paid off.”