By Pieter Swanepoel.
Kasigo Rabada, the super-quick and temperamental fast bowler spearheading the Proteas’ World Cup bid is the team’s poster boy and a fine example of the team’s diversity both on and off the pitch. But he’s not the only classy player in this side.
Hashim Amla finding his touch
In the build-up to Thursday’s opening match against England, the Proteas’ warm-up games served their purpose, although Hashim Amla mentioned after Sunday’s rained-out encounter in Bristol against the West Indies, the players could have done with getting another full game under their belts ahead of Thursday.
Read a full betting preview of England v South Africa here.
Amla for one was glad for a lot of time in the middle in both warm-up games. On Sunday he and Quinton de Kock batted together for 57 minutes. Amla was not out on 57, when rain ended proceedings, backing up his 65 against the Sri Lankans two days earlier, and indicating that despite many concerns about his form and mental state, he was in fine fettle – albeit, in warm-up matches.
You’ll see far worse bets this World Cup than the 41.0 he’s the tournament’s top scorer, an even wiser investment being to back him at that price on Betfair Sportsbook each-way. You also have to wonder whether he should be 5.0 to be the Proteas’ top runscorer in the tournament, also with Betfair. Do Quinton de Kock and Faf Du Plessis really deserve to be 3.5 the pair when Amla is that price? Answers on a postcard, please.
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Kasigo Rabada the star attraction
One cannot help but notice that the 2019 Proteas team is comfortably the most diverse South African cricket outfit to set foot in the UK. The fact that its poster-boy, Kagiso Rabada, is the son of a black medical doctor, who could afford to send his son to one of the Ivy League schools in one of Johannesburg’s plush suburbs to hone his cricket skills, once again puts emphasis on the evolution of South Africa’s rainbow nation.
Rabada’s form has certainly not gone unnoticed with the cricket writers of Fleet Street, who were quick to appreciate the 24-year-old’s market value. In particular, Stephan Brenkley, formerly of The Independent, who once stated that “he is tall, black, confident, affable, strong, smart and ambitious” and “that this guy could be a saviour” of South African cricket.
Rabada has topped the International Cricket Council’s bowler rankings in both Tests and one-day internationals, undoubtedly making the paceman on of South Africa’s key figures at the CWC 2019.
In a tournament expected to be dominated by batsmen, the Proteas will hope to buck the trend with a bowling attack led by the talented Rabada. You can get 17.0 on Rabada being the World Cup’s top bowler and a slightly less likely 21.0 that he’s Player of the Tournament. Again, all with Betfair.
Able to bowl at speeds of 93 miles per hour (150 kilometres per hour), swinging the ball in both directions and delivering pinpoint yorkers almost at will, Rabada is Faf du Plessis’ go-to man when South Africa desperately needs a wicket.
Off the field Kasigo Rabada, or KG as he’s sometimes known, is calm, modest and matter-of-fact. On the field, though, he has incurred disciplinary action from match referees on four occasions in the past two years. But then again, that’s just angry, competitive fast bowlers for you. The likes of Allan Donald and Andre Nel were cut from the same cloth.
Rabada’s fitness is also a worry after he had to withdraw from the Indian Premier League this year, because of a back strain.
He had taken 25 wickets in 12 matches for the Delhi Capitals, following a gruelling international season, in which he played in all South Africa’s Test matches and in 14 of 16 one-day internationals, leading to concern about his workload.
Kasigo Rabada backed up in the bowling stakes
Fortunately, Rabada is not a lone ranger. Lungisani Ngidi, whose parents hail from a small town on the edge of the Tugela River in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, will share the new ball with Rabada. They will be backed up by, amongst others, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo.
There is no coincidence that the latter’s second name is “Lucky”. Throughout South Africa’s storied World Cup narrative, the Proteas have been devoid of that crucial element required by all championship-winning teams.
Indeed, there are not many rushing to place their bets on the Proteas to lift the elusive silverware at Lord’s on July 14. Logic tells us that their batting is threadbare and the bowling unit is one injury away from being stretched to its bare bones.
But if logic is what determines World Cup winners, then Imran Khan would never have stood on the podium at the MCG with his “Cornered Tigers” back in 1992.
You can make a very good case for the likes of England and India in terms of who will lift the World Cup, and a few others. But at odds of 10.0 with Royal Panda, you can certainly make a case for South Africa on price alone; they are after all almost five times the odds England are. Are we meant to believe the hosts are that much better than them man-for-man?
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Who’s coming in for Dale Steyn?
Faf du Plessis has a similar passion for the people of South Africa. He wants to bring smiles to the faces of a country that is overwhelmed by daily struggles. And he wants to do it with a team that relates to every South African in the land.
Dale Steyn will play no part when the curtain is raised on the global jamboree tomorrow morning, with a return only being pencilled in for the India clash next Wednesday. With rookie fast bowler Anrich Nortje having already being forced to withdraw before the Proteas departed from South Africa, the selectors now face a conundrum.
With Phehlukwayo petty much nailed on to bat at seven and Steyn absent, do they play an extra all-rounder, either Chris Morris or Dwaine Pretorius, or do they play left-arm spin bowler Tabraiz Shamsi?
It is no secret that the Proteas brainstrust – Gibson and du Plessis – are fast-bowling enthusiasts, but if Gibson wants his team to be “brave”, Shamsi might be part of the line-up at The Oval tomorrow.
English captain Eoin Morgan admitted last year that his team needed to improve against the slower bowlers, particularly those of the wristy variation.
Imran Tahir, in tandem with Shamsi, could potentially just tighten a noose around an excellent batting unit, when confronted by high-quality spin.