Swinging the ball both ways at pace and not delivering many bad balls – that’s what makes Kagiso Rabada special according to Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, who was loving his fast bowler even more than usual after he spearheaded South Africa’s six-wicket win over Australia in the second Test at St George’s Park on Monday.
Rabada ensured that there would be no fightback from Australia on the fourth morning, bowling Mitchell Marsh for 45 in the first over of the day, and then claiming two more wickets in quick succession as the visitors went from their overnight score of 180 for five to 239 all out.
Rabada took six for 54 in 22 overs in the second innings, giving him match figures of 11 for 150, the second best ever by a South African bowler against Australia, behind spinner Hugh Tayfield’s 13 for 165 in Melbourne in 1952/53.
His heroics meant the Proteas had to score just 101 in their second innings to win and, some minor hiccups aside, they got there with four wickets down as Aiden Markram (21), Hashim Amla (27) and AB de Villiers (28) all chipped in well.
“KG has had an amazing rise, he has the best strike-rate of any bowler playing today and you don’t have to say much more about him. But it’s a huge pleasure as captain to have him and his skill at making the ball talk in both directions. To be able to move the ball both ways at pace, and not bowl a lot of bad balls, that’s what makes him so special,” Du Plessis said after levelling the series at 1-1.
With the verbal battles and send-offs – Rabada has been suspended for ? games – still dominating conversation at another gripping Test match, Du Plessis was happy to pardon the sort of blue language that was clearly being used out in the middle.
“Our style is not to swear or chirp all the time but things have changed so much in terms of what is not allowed over the last year or two that there have been a lot more incidents. Where the game is going, every single thing is being monitored.
“But our biggest concern is that we just ask for consistency. One match referee will interpret things in the other way to another match referee, because the rules are so sensitive now. But we believe this is the way Test cricket should be played and we have no issues with the way Australia play their cricket. The battles are an important part, otherwise you must just bring in bowling machines to bowl at robots.
“It should be about the cricket, Australia played great cricket in the first Test and in this Test we’ve produced some excellent stuff and the unbelievable performances of KG and AB de Villiers. It all takes the shine off a bit. Let the players play on and cricket be the main focus, we understand what boundaries not to cross and we won’t push that line,” Du Plessis said.