EXCLUSIVE: KG ready to help Proteas get the monkey off their backs

Kagiso Rabada will lead the Proteas attack when the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup starts on June 2. SA play their first match on June 3 against Sri Lanka. | Red Bull

Kagiso Rabada will lead the Proteas attack when the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup starts on June 2. SA play their first match on June 3 against Sri Lanka. | Red Bull

Published May 22, 2024



Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada believes his shoulders are big enough to carry the hopes of South Africa when they embark on a mission to end their trophy drought in an ICC event next month.

The Proteas will kick off their T20 World Cup campaign against Sri Lanka on June 3 in New York at the enigmatic Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

KG has said the task at hand is pretty straightforward, and it requires no over-thinking. Rather, as a professional, applying the strategies and plans to every match against unique opponents will be important.

At the end of the day, it will boil down to performing under pressure and executing tactics that should easily see them removing the growing monkey off their backs. Aside from Sri Lanka, the Proteas will also face bogey team the Netherlands and Bangladesh in New York, before finishing off the group stages against Nepal in Arnos Vale Stadium in Kingston, on the island of Saint Vincent.

Kagiso Rabada has played 56 T20s for the Proteas, taking 58 wickets at an economy rate of 8.61. | BackpagePix

Many will argue that the inability of the Proteas to win a major tournament has become more than just a playful monkey on their backs but rather an elephant-sized problem, much like the one that has been stomping around the room ever since the World Cup squad was selected by Proteas coach Rob Walter a couple of weeks ago.

Freshly returned from the IPL, the Punjab Kings seam bowler will be the only black African player selected in the 15-man Proteas squad that will go to the World Cup in the US and the Caribbean.

“It’s a sensitive topic, and I know it has been news. At the end of the day, the coach chose a team and that team was signed off and that’s what we’ll have to deal with,” he said, in an exclusive interview with Independent Newspapers on Monday.

“But in terms of transformation, I think with the sport of cricket, when an opportunity is given to a player of colour, it’s important to nurture that talent so that they can also be world class.

“I won’t comment about who should or shouldn’t be in the team, but what I will say is that black African talent needs to be nurtured. Heading to the World Cup, you can’t think about that stuff, as a player it becomes something that will add to you not being in your best possible mind frame to perform.”

While playing for Punjab Kings, Kagiso Rabada took 11 wickets in as many matches in the IPL this season. | IANS

This season’s IPL has had a heavy flow of runs with scores well in excess of 200 runs. The nature of wickets has played a huge part in the scores, something Rabada feels will not be a factor in New York in the Proteas’ opening fixtures, even though it’s unknown territory with a dropped in pitch.

“We’ve always had conversations as a bowling team, it’s all about bowling as a unit. We want to be the best bowling unit in the world,” he said.

“I guess we’ll find out how the wicket will play in New York, but those are the uncontrollables and we’ll see what gets given to us and adapt.

“The IPL is definitely shifting towards the batters because of the impact players, and the wickets there are generally good to bat on. There is not much in it for the bowlers in the wickets. All the scores above 230 to 250 were all on really flat pitches that didn’t offer a lot to the bowlers.

“The season has leaned more towards the batters, but at the same time it’s a nice challenge to be able to restrict the batters, especially on good pitches, but there has to be something in it for both batters and bowlers, otherwise you may as well call it a game of batting and not cricket,” he concluded.

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