One of the reasons for South Africa’s mediocre show in the ICC World Cup 2019 in England has been the inability of Kagiso Rabada to be at his best. The young pacer was hailed as one of the best in the world not too long back and was being seen as one of the fast bowlers to watch out for in World Cup 2019.
Unfortunately, though, Rabada has had a rather poor World Cup thus far – picking only six wickets in 7 matches at a shockingly horrible average of 50.83 and an economy rate of 5.25. Compared to his career average of 27.74 this tournament has been undoubtedly awful for Rabada.
It is not that Rabada isn’t trying; he is still running in and giving it his best. But he doesn’t appear to be in his zone. And he is perhaps a little tired and fatigued.
Captain Faf Du Plessis, after the loss to Pakistan, expressed that he feels that playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 might have tired his lead bowler out. The South African skipper revealed that the team management had even tried to stop Rabada playing in the IPL this year.
On being asked about Rabada’s excessive workload at a press conference, Du Plessis said that he won’t ever have a “perfect answer.” However, he did go on to add: “But we did try and get him not to go to the IPL; to try and stay and get fresh. That wasn’t the case of — and then when he went there, we were like, let’s try and get him back halfway through the IPL because it’s important, not just for him, but a few other players.”
Rabada, who represented the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, went on to play 12 matches in the tournament, taking 25 wickets while also bowling 47 overs. From the beginning of 2019, Rabada has so far bowled 303 overs across all formats and in different competitions.
So has all this led to fatigue and eventually affected his performance in the World Cup?
Only Rabada would perhaps know the real answer. He does look weary at times and doesn’t have that fire in his eyes. Maybe the team management should have managed him better. If they were so concerned about his workload in the IPL, then why didn’t they stop him from playing it? And why did captain Faf Du Plessis himself play the entire season of the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings? Why didn’t he set an example for his team’s players by backing out of the tournament and focusing only on the World Cup?
This was Rabada’s maiden World Cup, and he was expected to set the tournament on fire. Instead, he has completely fizzled out. That doesn’t mean his skills have evaporated. A poor performance in one tournament doesn’t take away the talent he has. Rabada, by his admission, is hurting right now and he would certainly try and come back with a bang.
There is no doubt, though, that Kagiso Rabada is the future of South Africa. And the onus is on the South African team management to ensure that he gets a proper break, is managed well and is given the best opportunity and conditions to be brought back to form.