Whenever a new, young fast bowler bursts on the scene – and in the South African context, especially a black African paceman – there is always a certain amount of hysteria.
Often the player fails to live up to the hype. But one can safely say that Kagiso Rabada, who will play his 50th Test when South Africa take on India in their series decider starting at Newlands on Tuesday, has fulfilled his extraordinary talent and there is still more to come from the 26-year-old.
So far in his Test career, Rabada has taken 226 wickets at an average of 22.57. This compares most favourably with the greats of South African fast bowling. After 49 Tests, Dale Steyn had 255 wickets at 22.82; Allan Donald 248 at 21.91; Shaun Pollock 203 at 20.26; and Vernon Philander 183 at 21.95.
And Rabada has made it clear that for him, it’s the long game that matters. He wants to pile up those numbers and not just be a shooting star.
“You can’t take anything for granted in international cricket, but for me it’s about longevity. I don’t want to be doing well for a short period of time. That’s what drives me,” Rabada said.
“As much as it’s about getting wickets, it’s also about being the best I can be. And there’s no limit to that. I am nowhere near done.
“There are lots of ups and downs and the challenge is to keep those good performances going for a long amount of time.”
The fact that Rabada is sometimes criticised for not giving his all is a symptom of the high expectations that continually follow him.
His response to that: “I just try to keep it as simple as possible. The dry spells can come at any time and then you have to realise your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
“Remember what got you here in the first place are your strengths. I really want to get the best out of myself.”