‘I’ll back the decision to bat first,’ Rabada says after a top-class effort
"Simon Harmer is already in the game with his second ball ragging quite a bit, so I’ll say it is the right decision to bat first."
Kagiso Rabada celebrates the crucial wicket of Joe Root on the first day of the second Test against England at Old Trafford. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Kagiso Rabada, the top-scorer in a miserable Proteas total of 151, backed both the decision to bat first and the rest of the South African batting line-up to come good despite seven of them shuffling back down the aisle to the changeroom with just 92 runs on the board before he had to come to the crease on the first day of the second Test against England at Old Trafford.
Rabada scored a determined 36 to ensure the Proteas did not make some dreaded history on Thursday for beating their lowest ever completed innings in Manchester: the 130 they made back in 1929 when England beat them by an innings thanks to leg-spinner Tich Freeman’s career-best 12 wickets and centuries by Bob Wyatt and Frank Woolley.
Rabada then produced a top-class delivery, a back-of-a-length ball zipping and bouncing at the key England batsman, Joe Root, to find the edge of the bat and Sarel Erwee completing a juggling catch at first slip.
“We played two spinners for a reason and generally if you’re playing two spinners then you need to bat first. The pitch is getting drier and it’s quite slow.
“Simon Harmer is already in the game with his second ball ragging quite a bit. So I’ll say it is the right decision to bat first. We know the batting unit have quality but it is a young one as well.
“So it’s about gaining experience, but our batsmen know what they have to do, they don’t get out on purpose. They know what went wrong and as a team we back each and every player.
“Individuals take responsibility and I know they are all trying their utmost best. I’ll not be pointing fingers because that is just energy-sapping,” Rabada said.
Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad shared six wickets as they bowled with wonderful skill and nous to exploit the overcast conditions and a pitch that provided plenty of seam movement.
‘Legend of the game’
Rabada was asked about Anderson in the press conference at the end of the day’s play and he praised the paceman who is 40 years old and playing in his 174th Test.
“Jimmy has had a remarkable career, particularly in Test cricket. He is still getting wickets and he is a legend of the game. He’s a phenomenal bowler, he showed that again today,” Rabada said.
“Only playing Tests has helped his longevity, but England play quite a few Tests every year. I guess I will need to have a beer with him at the end of the tour and ask him how he does it.”
Anderson has 661 wickets now halfway through his 174th Test, a rate of 3.80 wickets per match. Rabada has 251 wickets in his 54th Test, striking at 4.71 dismissals per game.
South Africa’s spearhead will need 140 Tests at this rate to post the same figures as Anderson, so 86 more. But given that the Proteas play so few Tests in comparison to England and are slated to play even less over the next few years, Rabada will need to keep playing until he is about 42 and show the same sort of longevity to overtake the numbers England’s leading wicket-taker is churning out.