Proteas

Rest for Rabada in Adelaide? No way...

2016-11-17 12:45
Kagiso Rabada (Getty)

Cape Town - When Dale Steyn went down in the first Test against the Aussies in Perth, South African eyes immediately turned to Kagiso Rabada to deliver something special. 

He did not disappoint. 

In fairness, all of the Proteas bowlers - Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj included - came to the party, but Rabada was something else. 

He bowled 51 overs in the Test, 31 of those coming in his match-winning second-innings showing of 5/92. 

Those figures do not do justice to how well Rabada bowled. 

He simply never stopped; nodding his head every time captain Faf du Plessis asked him if he had enough in the tank for one more. He kept his pace up, showed phenomenal control and displayed the match intelligence of a man who has been bowling at this level for years. 

At one point in that Australia second innings, former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy said in the commentary box that Rabada's was the best spell of fast bowling he had seen since Pakistani great, Wasim Akram. 

That's a big call, but it goes to show how much of an impact the 21-year-old has made Down Under. 

Rabada and Quinton de Kock are the two brightest stars in this South African set-up. 

If both stay fit throughout their careers, there is no telling what they can achieve and what records they can break. 

But, as is the case with any superstar in any sport, they need to be managed properly.

For De Kock, that means not asking him to keep wicket and open the batting in Test cricket.

For Rabada, the selectors and management have a duty to ensure that he stays fit and does not burn out. 

I'm reluctant to call the day/night affair a 'dead-rubber', because a 3-0 series whitewash would go down a treat, but we must remember that the series has already been won. 

Given his work-load in that first Test, and given that there is a fair amount of cricket around the corner for the Proteas, letting Rabada put his feet up in Adelaide might not be the worst call in the world. 

Kyle Abbott will want to keep going, Vernon Philander is in a good space and Morne Morkel will be frothing for an opportunity to show that he is still very much in the mix.

The Proteas have a long summer against Sri Lanka at home over the festive season - three Tests, three T20Is and five ODIS. Then they are off to New Zealand in March before jetting off to England for four Tests, three ODIs and three T20s. 

The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy takes place between the ODIs and Tests on that England tour, so we will be seeing a lot of Rabada in the months ahead.

If the Proteas are going to continue their dominance over the next few months - the Champions Trophy and England Test series the biggest challenges on their immediate radar - then Rabada firing over that mid-year period is crucial for South Africa.

It is imperative that he stays in prime physical condition until then.

But good luck to the brave soul who tries to take that pink ball away from him right now. 

This is the first ever day/night Test that the Proteas will play in. It is a little piece of history and Rabada will be as pumped as anyone to be a part of it. 

With each passing display, Rabada is enhancing his reputation as one of the world's best. Why would he want to stop now when things are going so well? 

It is not every day you get a chance to whitewash the Aussies in their own back yard, and having a red-hot Rabada makes that a real possibility in Adelaide. 

Read more on:    proteas  |  kagiso rabada  |  cricket
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