In a World Cup expected to be dominated by batsmen, South Africa hope to buck the trend with a bowling attack led by the precociously talented Kagiso Rabada.
Rabada has topped the International Cricket Council’s bowler rankings in both Tests and one-day internationals, making the paceman one of South Africa’s key figures at the World Cup.Able to bowl at speeds close to 93 miles per hour (150 kilometres per hour) with a languid action, swinging the ball in both directions and delivering pinpoint yorkers almost at will, Rabada is captain Faf du Plessis’ go-to man when South Africa desperately need a wicket.
Rabada turns 24 on May 25 — just five days before his team’s clash with England in the tournament opener at the Oval — but he is already experienced enough to be regarded as a potential World Cup game-changer.
“I saw that my parents worked quite hard and then achieved a lot, so I didn’t feel like at any time I struggled,” Rabada said in an early interview.
“At the same time, I knew what it was like for people to struggle.”
Rugby was his first sporting love but it was soon obvious he had cricketing ability as a swashbuckling left-handed batsman and raw fast bowler.
Wim Jansen, director of cricket at St Stithians, said Rabada always had raw pace but was inconsistent and bowled too many no-balls.“He was a quick learner and worked incredibly hard, and still does. His discipline, especially in terms of conditioning exercise, was incredible,” Jansen said.