Kagiso Rabada addresses the media during an ICC Cricket World Cup press conference on Sunday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

SOUTHAMPTON – The West Indies may not be talking about AB de Villiers’s absence from the Proteas line-up, but silently they must surely be breathing a sigh of relief.

De Villiers has faced the Windies in three World Cup games. Each time he has struck a century, amassing 415 runs in the process, while being dismissed only once.

The fact is De Villiers is retired. And talk about a possible return to the Proteas on the eve of the 2019 World Cup last week has just been an unnecessary distraction. South Africa have to focus on the here and now. Lose and their World Cup is effectively over. Win, and they live to fight another day. Kagiso Rabada will certainly be giving it his all and more.

Kagiso Rabada during a Proteas training session. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Kagiso Rabada during a Proteas training session. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

“We’ve just got a stiff challenge ahead of us, but we’re ready to stand up, rise up to it,” Rabada said yesterday. “I think that’s just in our DNA as South Africans. The way we play our cricket, you know, we are always there. If you look at how we play our cricket, we never give up. We just need a few things to click.”

It certainly will take every ounce of energy for SA to prevail. After years of drifting in the international wilderness, perpetually in a state of turmoil due to rifts between star players and the West Indies Cricket Broad that makes the “AB Gate” saga look like child’s play, the Windies have rediscovered their Calypso mojo.

They are back to hitting the ball long and hard. They are bowling fast again. And most importantly they are enjoying every minute of it.

“What is exciting is that we are playing our way, we are not looking at the other teams. We are playing what works for us. We are playing a West Indian way. We are playing a brand of aggressive cricket with a smile on our face. And if that will take us to the success that we are looking at, then that is very, very important,” West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick said.

“That is what we are trying to get over to the players, whatever you do you must try and enjoy it. It is very important, you are at the World Cup, you have to go out and enjoy your cricket and let the process take care of itself and just think team in whatever we do and try and do our best.”

Oh, how SA would kill to be this free of mind and spirit. They have the world on their shoulders, and Rabada admits that it has been rough.

@ZaahierAdams at the Rose Bowl

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