The tag of eternal chokers is as painful as “Shakespearean tragedies” but the ongoing World Cup could be different for South Africa since youngsters in the side are not carrying burden of the past, says pacer Kagiso Rabada. Since their return to international cricket in 1991, the only major event won by South Africa was the 1998 inaugural mini-World Cup (later known as Champions Trophy) in Bangladesh. They have never made it to the final of an ICC World Cup. “It’s something that has been haunting us for years. It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy almost. Hopefully, we can change that,” Rabada told PTI during an interview before the World Cup began. Rabada said youngsters like him go into the tournament with a clean slate.
“You can’t be anything but positive going into the World Cup. We believe we have every chance to win the World Cup. What has happened in the past, you got to let go of that,” said the 24-year-old, who has 108 wickets from 67 ODIs. “We have a young team that has shown potential. And I feel it’s a blessing that not many of them have been to the World Cup. It’s young and it’s fresh,” said Rabada. In 2015, when South Africa toured India, Rabada had bowled a fabulous final over to Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the Green Park in Kanpur, defending less than 10 runs. That match perhaps was the first indication of Dhoni’s waning powers as a finisher.
When asked about his perfect executions at the death, Rabada said that more than all the homework done, it is all about what works at any given moment. “These days players do a lot of analysis. So the batters and bowlers are looking up batting and bowling histories. You can prepare what could be coming your way. “But it’s more about what works for you on the day of the match rather than all the planning you’ve made,” said Rabada, whose ODI economy rate is an envious 5.01. Being compared to Jasprit Bumrah is a compliment for the talented Protea, who reckons that the ongoing World Cup will be an interesting one for the fast bowlers.
“Well, that’s a compliment surely. But I don’t know who is the best because all teams at the moment have good fast bowling units. which is also a big reason why I think this World Cup will be a very interesting one,” he said. South African cricket over the years has suffered due to a lot of quality cricketers quitting international cricket to play county cricket, using the Kolpak agreement. The Kolpak deal allows any player from European Union as well as Caribbean and South Africa to ply their trade in UK without being considered overseas citizen.
“Kolpak is a touchy issue, people are entitled to their choices of course. For me playing for the country is a big deal,” Rabada made his priorities clear. With Faf du Plessis in all likelihood playing his last 50 over World Cup, Rabada is certainly a contender for national captaincy, a challenge he wants to accept head on as and when the opportunity arises. “I get asked this question very often. I think if I am given the responsibility I would take up the challenge. There’s a lot you need to learn,” said the youngster.
“The more people keep mentioning it, the more I try and put myself in the captain’s shoes on the field and sort of assess match situations. So if the opportunity does come up to me, I would take it up as a challenge and give my absolute best.