ROHIT SANKAR | 11 MARCH, 2018
Fiery Kagiso Rabada Shows Why He should Not Be Written Off
When this man is on song, there are few who can stop him
“I’ve learnt that it’s the small details that will separate you from the rest. It’s not really your skill that is the point of difference because you already possess your skill. It’s about doing the right things at the right time and that’s a really fine line.”
Kagiso Rabada, South Africa's teen fast bowling sensation turned national pace spearhead had stated in an interview last year. His words were worth remembering. “Doing the right things at the right time” seems to be what most fast bowlers miss these days.
At Port Elizabeth, he rampaged in alongside a niggardly Vernon Philander under cloudy skies against David Warner, buoyed by the stairwell-controversy, and Cameron Bancroft, looking to prove his Test credentials yet another time.
Rabada was tight, accurate with his line and length and gave little away. But he was short. With the new ball expected to swing around under the cloudy sky, seamers had to pitch the ball up and Rabada couldn't do it. He returned for a second spell, frustrated, high and dry and bowled either too short or compensated for it by bowling too full.
Warner, who had seen enough of Rabada, unleashed some powerful square drives as the South African seamer ended up conceding more than six an over in his spell.
Australia had weathered the storm. They had not only silenced Rabada but supposedly thrown him off the radar with a scything counter-attack. Though Philander brought South Africa back into the Test, Faf du Plessis knew that despite his workhorse-nature, he couldn't hide Rabada and Ngidi for the whole innings.
While Ngidi returned with fury to dismiss Warner with a peach of a ball, Rabada fine-tuned himself to prove to the spectators at Port Elizabeth what exactly made him special. What unfolded next was a carnage with the carcass being dragged around mercilessly.
Rabada nearly ran out Steven Smith with a direct hit and the throw seemed to have poked his inner caged monster. Next over, he turned up as the Rabada the World knew him to be and sent back the Aussie skipper with a corker of a ball that tailed in and crashed onto his pads.
‘When Steven Smith goes, half of Australia's batting line-up goes’ is a common phrase these days and if this were true, Rabada had already made his mark in the game. But champions, across skills, across sports and across every other field are tough nuts who relentlessly keep hitting back.
Rabada was a champion; one of the highest order. Next over he turned the direction of the Test around by 180° removing Shaun Marsh, his brother and Pat Cummins separated by a tea interval.
Shaun Marsh, like Smith, fell prey to a ball that tailed in and crashed onto the stumps while Mitchell Marsh nicked one behind two balls later. Pat Cummins followed suit as Australia, sitting pretty at 161/3 succumbed to 170/7 which turned into 182/8 as Starc was cleaned up by a reverse swinging jaffa from Rabada coming around the stumps.
“My music taste is diverse and what I listen to depends on my mood. Being in my youth (Rabada is 22) you will find that hip hop features heavily on my playlist. However, I’m also into house music, drum and bass as well as some mellow jazz”, Rabada had commented in the same interview.
Yet on Friday evening, he was anything but mellow. A dash of hip hop spiced up by a dollop of jazz and a kick-ass drum with enough bass to send the Aussies running home would accurately describe his menacing spell that saw him pick up all of his five wickets in the Test.
When this man is on song, there are few in the World who can stop him. England, India, New Zealand and now Australia have all now got a taste of the future of fast bowling.
"Kagiso was 14 years old and playing in a time-cricket match at school, and his team were struggling to take the last wicket," Dr Mpho Rabada, his dad, fondly remembers as revealed by ESPNCricinfo. "He was given the ball. He ran in and bowled the fastest delivery I had ever seen at that point. The stumps went cartwheeling and his team won. It was a stunning moment, the best I'd seen."
Like then, he may not turn up and deliver spell after spell in the very same spot like Vernon Philander but when the moment is right, Rabada would grab it by the scruff of its neck and make the opposition pay. He was born to ball with fury and is merely fulfilling his life destiny by decimating batsmen from around the globe.