Town - As the Proteas begin
a massive year in which they will try and win a maiden World Cup, they do so in
the knowledge that Kagiso
Rabada will be key to any such success.
The 23-year-old has become
increasingly valuable to the South African cause with each passing season, and his
name is now one of the first on the team sheet whenever the Proteas take to the
field, regardless of the format.
While the World Cup is obviously
the priority over the next six months, the more immediate job at hand from a
Proteas perspective is securing a Test series win over Pakistan.
South Africa won the first Test
inside three days at Centurion, and they now turn their attention to Newlands
in Cape Town where the second Test begins on Thursday.
Rabada took six wickets in that
first Test match, ensuring that he ended 2018 as the world's leading
wicket-taker in Test cricket with 52
scalps at just 20.07.
Rabada also finished the year as
the No 1 ranked bowler in Test cricket.
On the surface, it looks like the
youngster has already mastered his craft.
With 157 wickets in just 33 Tests
and with years of bowling ahead of him, Rabada looks a good bet to (one day)
overtake Dale Steyn as the country's leading wicket-taker in the format.
that level of expectation, Rabada could easily get caught with his head in the
Instead, he refuses to stop
soaking in what the game has to offer. He never stops learning.
"There are always things
that you can improve on and you never really arrive, ever," Rabada told
journalists in Cape Town on Tuesday.
"I think that's just the way
I am. You always try and find place to improve, but at the same time I've
learnt to acknowledge my strengths and I've also learnt that things don't come
quickly. You have to look at the minor battles."
Looking ahead to 2019, Rabada was
keeping his plans as simple as possible.
"Just to take it step by
step again," he said.
"There are obviously a few
goals I would like to achieve and the team as well ... just to improve on what
I feel I could have done better last year."
While Rabada will definitely play
at Newlands, there is some uncertainty hovering over the fast bowling
department with the news that Vernon Philander is fit once more.
In Philander's absence at
Centurion, Duanne Olivier left with match figures of 11/96 in a display that
was one of the finest seen by a South African fast bowler in recent
If the Protea opt to go with the
same balance of three seamers and a specialist spinner, however, Olivier will
likely be dropped while Philander operates alongside Rabada and Steyn.
"I don't like to get
involved in team selection, it's not my place," Rabada said.
"But it is a bit of a
headache now with people talking about Vern maybe coming back and Duanne
sitting out. It's a good headache to have."
"We'll have to see what the
captain, selectors and coach come up with."