Boss bowler Kagiso Rabada's caps set to catch up to his age

05 October 2017 - 15:04 By Telford Vice
Kagiso Rabada of South Africa during day 3 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Bangladesh at Senwes Park on September 30, 2017 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
Kagiso Rabada of South Africa during day 3 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Bangladesh at Senwes Park on September 30, 2017 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

It’s taken a long time‚ but Kagiso Rabada will finally play as many tests as he has had years on the face of the earth in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Fast bowler Rabada‚ 22‚ is set to earn his 22nd cap for South Africa in the second test against Bangladesh.

Not only that‚ he will lead the home side’s attack in the wake of a spate of injuries to his peers‚ most of whom are more experienced.

This week‚ Morne Morkel joined Dale Steyn‚ Vernon Philander and Chris Morris on the sidelines — making Rabada the undisputed boss of the bowlers.

But that’s among the few certainties about the composition of South Africa’s XI.

“You want to make sure that the venom in your attack is still the same‚” captain Faf du Plessis said on Thursday.

“With Morne‚ ‘KG’ [Rabada]‚ Vernon and Dale there‚ there’s an expectancy of what you’re going to get. If you don’t have those guys there you’re not sure.

“So it’s important for us to look at how we can best balance the side but still have a strong attack.

“The challenge is‚ if Morne’s out‚ do we still play three frontline seamers and an allrounder or do we look at four seamers and two allrounders?

“There’s lots to consider. But it’s important to have a really strong attack because you want to put Bangladesh under pressure with pace.”

Simply‚ three players — allrounders Wayne Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo and uncapped fast bowler Dane Paterson — are competing for two places.

At least Duanne Olivier can be assured that he will share the new ball with Rabada‚ and that on his home ground.

And despite the fact that he has played only four tests‚ a measure of South Africa’s reality thanks to their lengthy injury list.

“It’s a nice responsibility‚ especially for Duanne‚” Du Plessis said. “He probably prefers to have the new ball in his hand and he’s back in home conditions.

“Every bowler is a confidence bowler. If Duanne gets his tail up I reckon he’s going to click and it’s going to be really good to see him go.”

Du Plessis welcomed the opportunity to see that happen‚ and it didn’t hurt that the opposition were comfortably second-tier.

“With big players missing‚ especially against teams like Bangladesh‚ it’s important to see what your resources are‚” Du Plessis said.

“We’re very unlucky in that we have four bowlers injured at the same time; we’ve never faced with a scenario like this.

“But for the first time I’m getting to see someone like ‘Pato’ [Paterson] with a red ball. That’s good‚ to see who else is out there.”

Whoever South Africa settle on‚ they will hope the pitch is livelier than the flat surface they were presented with in the first test in Potchefstroom.

South Africa won by 333 runs‚ dismissing Bangladesh for their record low of 90 in the second innings‚ but Du Plessis was happy to report that he expected the surface in Bloem to be more responsive — even though it was a lot less green on Thursday than earlier this week.

“It’s changed quickly‚” he said.

“That’s the nature of of the thin grass they have here in Bloem‚ which is similar to Potch.

“But there is more grass on the wicket and I think it hasn’t been rolled as flat as it was in Potch. So there should be more pace and bounce.”

What will he do if he wins the toss on Friday?

“We’ll leave that for the Bangladesh captain‚” Du Plessis said with a smile.