Kagiso Rabada has managed to handle every challenge thrown at him in his brief career.
But that doesn’t mean the 21-year-old Proteas star – bought for R10.2 million by the Delhi Daredevils – will be an immediate hit in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
In fact, former South Africa seam bowler Meyrick Pringle believes expectations for Rabada should be kept low.
“Kagiso’s a magnificent cricketer. There’s probably no reason why he can’t flourish from the outset,” he said.
“But maybe it’s better not to get over-excited. People won’t be surprised if he performs yet they’ll probably be very concerned if he struggles. And that can lead to the wrong perspective.”
What Pringle is essentially saying is that there wouldn’t be anything wrong if Rabada actually struggles initially.
And he should know – he’s experienced the tough conditions of India first-hand as a former bowling coach of local state team Rajasthan.
“You can’t really prepare for India beforehand if you’re a young, foreign player,” said Pringle.
“India is a cricketing country where you have to learn by playing. Conditions are just so different from place to place.
“Even the outfields differ. On one ground, it will feel as if you’re playing on wet clay. The other will be rock hard.”
Despite the IPL making an effort to keep pitches more or less standardised, there’s enough evidence to suggest Rabada will be confronted by different surfaces.
“He’s going to have to adapt if he plays a lot,” said Pringle.
“Even if the pitches are good, they’re going to be in favour of the batsmen. And against world-class batters, that’s a huge challenge.”
Rabada performed decently during the Proteas’ tour to India in late 2015 but struggled to adapt in last year’s ICC World T20, where South Africa were eliminated during the group stage.
More importantly, his conditioning will be tested.
“He’s got to be mentally strong. It’s summer now in India and it’s hot. There will be a toll on his body,” said Pringle.
“But he’ll be richer for the experience. It will make him a better bowler. This is in no way a bad thing.”