South African fast bowling sensation, Kagiso Rabada’s rise to number one on the ICC world rankings, has been nothing short of sensational. The Highveld Lions speedster surpassed England’s James Anderson on the bowling rankings after the first Freedom test between the Proteas and India at Newlands and the final Ashes test between Australia and England in Sydney, in which Anderson took part in.
Rabada, who is only 22 years old, is the fourth Protea to achieve this feat after Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, who was Man of the Match at Newlands. If you consider his age and the fact that this was only his 24th test, you will understand why there is so much hype around the progress and development of the man affectionately known as KG. He has been bowling very quick at times (close to 150kph) and has mixed up swing, seam movement and aggressive bouncers with pace, guile and reverse swing.
When Dale Steyn was struck down with a long term shoulder injury in Australia in November 2016, Rabada put his hand up and became the leader of the attack, even though his age would pretty much suggest that he should be a junior in the team. In Steyn’s absence and with Philander and Morkel out at various times through injury, Rabada and left arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, took the bulk of SA’s wickets between them with some support coming from Chris Morris, Duanne Olivier, Wayne Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo at different times.
Rabada’s rise to the top will not only make new coach Ottis Gibson and Faf du Plessis (captain) happy but also people like former bowling coach, Charl Langeveldt, Vincent Barnes (High performance manager of CSA) and Linda Zondi (convenor of selectors) who has all played a role in KG’s rise to the top.
At 22, all Rabada would want to do now is bowl. However, the powers that be would do well to look after the well being of their superstar by managing his work load and playing schedule in the years ahead. If that is done, the Proteas can look forward to many more good, productive years from their fast bowling ace…
ICC bowling rankings at 9 January 2018
1 (+1) Kagiso Rabada (SA) 888 pts, ave: 21.96
2 (-1) James Anderson (England) 887 pts, ave: 27.40
3 ( – ) Ravindra Jadeja (India) 861 pts, ave: 23.73
4 ( – ) Ravichandran Ashwin (India) 830 pts, ave: 25.35
5 ( – ) Josh Hazlewood (Australia) 814 pts, ave: 25.77
6 (+6) Vernon Philander (SA) 806 pts, ave: 21.68
7 (-1) Rangana Herath (SL) 799 pts, ave: 28.04
8 (-1) Neil Wagner (NZ) 784 pts, ave: 27.87
9= ( – ) Nathan Lyon (Australia) 769 pts, ave: 31.64
9= (-1) Mitchell Starc (Australia) 769 pts, ave: 27.73
11 (-1) Morne Morkel (SA) 754 pts, ave: 28.39
12 (-1) Dale Steyn (SA) 737 pts, ave: 22.32
17 (-1) Keshav Maharaj (SA) 671 pts, ave: 25.60