Johannesburg - Rather than reflect too much on the past - whether the memories are good or bad - Kagiso Rabada, would rather he and his teammates look forward - ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Rabada joined the Proteas squad on Monday for his first training session with them, saying he enjoyed being “around some positivity.” Rabada’s Indian Premier League campaign with the Delhi Capitals had ended on a low, with the Capitals coming up just short in the play-off match against Kolkata last week. Given that the Capitals were runners-up last year, the disappointment is understandable.
Crucially for Rabada, his Capitals teammate Anrich Nortje, Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock and Tabraiz Shamsi, the IPL gave them some match time in conditions that they will encounter in the world cup over the next few weeks. “I’ve been playing, I don’t think I need to do too much more. It’s about locking in and executing game plans,” said Rabada.
He claimed seven wickets in eight matches for Delhi during the UAE portion of the IPL and while that return is modest, given his success there previously, his economy rate of 7.6, indicates that he provided control.
The UAE is where Rabada, Markram and Andile Phehlukwayo - one of the three back up squad members - lifted the under-19 World Cup in 2014 and where in Rabada’s case particularly, he announced himself to the cricket world. “There’s a lot of good memories from the under-19 world cup, it would be great to replicate that with the senior team.”
The senior Proteas team of course has a dismal record at World Cups. Rabada was part of the 2019 side which won just three matches in England, and personally had a very disappointing tournament. However, like recent memories of success with the Proteas - the team having won their last three T20 series’s, and are currently on a seven match unbeaten run - Rabada explained that it is important to put both disappointments and achievements into perspective.
“We’ve been rebuilding as a team and so far it has been going according to plan. We’re taking this as a new challenge, everything that is in the past is in the past but we do take confidence from it.”
As for the disappointments, Rabada said it was not something he didn’t want to spend too much time reflecting on. “What has happened in the past has happened. We have a challenge in front of us. No one in the past had tried to lose games. Whether we have baggage or not...it’s not worth talking about. It’s about playing.”
South Africa face Australia on Saturday, in a Group A fixture, which for both sides will be a crucial match. Neither side comes into the tournament as one of the favourites. Instead that tag sits with two other teams in the Group - defending champions, the West Indies and the current 50-over World Cup holders, England, who’ve put a lot of planning into this tournament.
Rabada, is now a senior member of the SA side, so his leadership in helping the rest of the players traverse a tricky group is vital. “.its something I have learned to embrace. I’m not letting it affect me, its just about doing it. “(Leadership) is something I have to do, I don’t see it as a burden, it’s not something I am desperate to do. I am eager to do it, it is something that there is a need of (within the group).”