The world’s top Test bowler Kagiso Rabada says it is his ambition to open the bowling for South Africa, but he will likely have to wait for his chance ahead of the second match against India in Pretoria.
Rabada’s thrilling display helped South Africa to a 72-run victory in the first test at Newlands, and catapulted the young firebrand to the summit of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings.
He dislodged England’s Jimmy Anderson, a man 13 years his senior, with match figures of 5-75 that only tell half the story of a display brimming with pace, aggression and control.
“Our bowling attack is very skilled, as we have seen in the past and in the last game. It feels great to be playing alongside these veterans,” Rabada said on Wednesday.
“I just bowl wherever the team wants me to bowl, but obviously I would like to open.
“It is very tough at the moment, though, because there are two very good bowlers doing that. I just like to do whatever the team requires me to do and set my own aspirations aside.”
Since the start of 2016 he has taken 108 test wickets at an average of 21.34 and has a career strike-rate of 39.2 that is better than veterans Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.
Despite his form, Rabada was the fourth bowler used by South African captain Faf du Plessis in the first innings against India, a bow to his teammates’ seniority.
The 22-year-old has long been thought of as a special talent, particularly in his homeland where the desire for role models for young black cricketers burns strong. But few thought he would deliver so much, so soon.
There are many who believe he can still get quicker, adding further to his considerable weaponry.
“I don’t know how fast I can get. Sometimes I don’t think the speed gun is telling the truth to be honest. I can feel when I’m bowling quick and when I’m not,” he added.
The loss of Steyn to another injury setback means the burden will be greater on Rabada this season, with two more home Tests to come against India and then four against the visiting Australians.
“I need to do more, I am always striving for perfection, even though you will never reach it,” he said. “There is always something else you can work on and that is what I have done in my career so far. There is always a problem.”