If Kagiso Rabada (maybe) felt his powers waned during a mediocre one-day series against Sri Lanka recently, he received a nice boost earlier this week.
The Proteas bowling spearhead wasn’t quite himself with the white ball in hand after an excellent Test series.
As a result, some observers are questioning his state of mind going into the New Zealand tour, which starts with a solitary T20 in Auckland on Friday.
But his Test and T20 skipper, Faf du Plessis, has no doubts.
“Kagiso is the real deal,” he said upon arrival in the country.
“He’s someone who’s going to be, injury permitting, just as good as Dale and Morne. He’s going to be leading South Africa’s attack for a very long time. From a captain’s perspective, he’s a guy in all formats who has the skills to do whatever is required.”
There’s enough evidence that the 21-year-old quick isn’t overawed by responsibility, as his performances in the Test series against England, Australia and the Islanders attest.
“If it’s to keep the game quiet, he’s got the skill to do that. If it’s to shut the game down, his yorkers are fantastic. Bounce and pace are his big weapons, so it will be nice see what he can do in these conditions. He hasn’t played in New Zealand so this will be a nice learning opportunity for him,” said Du Plessis.
But it is noticeable that Rabada does need support, even if it’s from someone in the background.
The experienced Vernon Philander has been an especially good foil for him in the five-day format.
The question then is: who’ll be Rabada’s lieutenant against an imposing Black Caps team?
Russell Domingo, the Proteas coach, hopes it can be the mercurial Wayne Parnell.
For all his faults, Parnell picked up 11 wickets against Sri Lanka and it seems there’s a growing feeling to accept him for who he is.
“Wayne is very talented but he does frustrate,” said Domingo.
“In the series against Sri Lanka, it seemed like when things wanted to go pear-shaped, he picked up wickets. There are going to be frustrating days with him. We’re trying to lessen those days.
“We want him to realise the importance of having a great game and then a crap game. We want to lessen that gap, we want great games and good games. He’s not perfect but he’s improving.”