Kagiso Rabada showed once again at the IPL that he remains in the top class of international fast bowlers, but his eagerness to repeat those heroics for the Proteas against England from this weekend is based more on a desire to compete against the batsmen of the 50-over world champions rather than compare himself with other pacemen.
Rabada was a standout performer as he spearheaded the Delhi Capitals’ surge to the IPL final, taking 30 wickets (the 2nd most ever) and winning the Purple Cap for leading wicket-taker. But England have brought some fearsome fast bowlers of their own to South Africa in Jofra Archer, named MVP of the recent IPL, and Mark Wood, as well as skilful white-ball practitioners like Sam Curran and Chris Jordan.
But Rabada’s attention is more on a personal battle with batting kingpins Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Jason Roy, while Joe Root will be coming over for the ODIs that follow the three T20s.
“The IPL was great, but in cricket, especially at the international stage, you have to repeat constantly. It is not an easy place, you’re never in your comfort zone. But you have to keep coming back and doing the same thing. Sometimes you hit a purple patch, but most of the other times you’re just scrapping and it’s never easy against England,” Rabada said on Monday.
“I’m not looking at how they bowl and trying to do better, although Jofra and Mark are world-class fast bowlers and you have to appreciate the skill they bring.
“But when I’m running in to bowl, that or the crowd are the last things I’m thinking about. It’s a contest between me and the batsman and there’s a lot at stake. And it’s not as if you can just land the ball in a certain spot every delivery.”
The 25-year-old Rabada agreed that a long break from cricket – he was rested from the closing stages of the Proteas’ 2019/20 summer and then lockdown happened – helped give him a new lease on life.
“Obviously the break helped to refresh my body and I was able to take my mind off a lot of things,” he said. “But I don’t know how many long breaks we’ll be able to have in future; the cricket just gets more and more and you’ve just got to find a way to take it in your stride.
“But I think quite a bit of my IPL performance was down to the long break and I have to be smarter about how much I play.
“When I first started with the Proteas I just wanted to play every game, and although I’ve definitely still got the ambition, there’s a lot of volume of cricket. It’s about how to stay fresh and therefore be close to my best, and I definitely have a say in that.
“Mark Boucher has said he wants to rotate a bit and we trust the coach’s philosophy and buy into it,” Rabada said.
England tour to South Africa
KFC T20 Series
Friday, 27 November at 6pm
1st KFC T20I South Africa v England, Six Gun Grill Newlands, Cape Town
Sunday, 29 November at 2.30pm
2nd KFC T20I South Africa v England, Eurolux Boland Park, Paarl
Tuesday, 1 December at 6pm
3rd KFC T20I South Africa v England, Six Gun Grill Newlands, Cape Town
Betway ODI Series
Friday, 4 December at 1pm
1st Betway ODI (CWCSL) South Africa v England, Six Gun Grill Newlands, Cape Town
Sunday, 6 December at 10am
2nd Betway ODI (CWCSL): South Africa v England, Eurolux Boland Park, Paarl
Wednesday, 9 December at 1pm
3rd Betway ODI (CWCSL): South Africa v England, Six Gun Grill Newlands, Cape Town