Can Kagiso Rabada Become The Best Ever?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Kagiso Rabada of South Africa celebrates dismissing Liam Dawson of England during the 4th day of the 1st Investec Test between England and South Africa at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Can Kagiso Rabada Become The Best Ever?

Fast bowling is tough. The physical stress that it places on your body can be upwards of ten times your body weight, with all that force slamming through your knee and into your ankle.

Some bowlers make it look easy though. Gliding to the crease and delivering the ball at 90mph with ease and minimal effort. Michael Holding is the most obvious example of this. Nicknamed ‘Whispering Death’, the West Indian fast bowler floated into his delivery stride before the ball explodes from his hand and often into the stumps of the batsman.

Kagiso Rabada is another bowler who makes it look easy. His rhythmic run up and quick arm action seems easy to replicate and it place less stress on his back while still allowing him to regularly bowl between 140 and 150km/h. A level of speed that is vital to unsettle the top batsman around the world and even more so when playing on placid pitches.

Behind that smooth and gentle bowling action lies a fire and passion that erupts, much like the ball out of the 22 year-olds hand.

That passion can go too far.

The Second Test Match against Australia is testament to that. The South African collected his eighth demerit point in the 12-month period for an altercation with Steve Smith after dismissing him in the first innings, before collecting his ninth point against his name for his celebration after claiming the wicket of David Warner.

These discrepancies mean he will receive a two-match ban and miss the final two Test matches of the Australia series.

It is not the first time that Rabada has been on the end of disciplinary action from the ICC, as he served a one game ban during the English summer after an incident involving Ben Stokes.

Clearly ‘KG’ needs to control his emotions on the field. He cannot keep putting his side at a disadvantage by having their main strike bowling missing through his own actions. His importance to the side cannot be understated. In the Second Test against Australia he claimed 11 wickets, his fourth haul of 10 or more victims in just his 28th Test Match.
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Less than three years into his Test career and Rabada has already ascended to the number one ranked bowler in the longest format, and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his International success.

His One Day International debut ended with figures of 6-16, the best figures on debut in the format, and by taking a hat trick he joined Taijul Islam as the only two players to complete that feat in their first ODI. His tally of 135 Test Match wickets at the age of 22 is the fourth most in history, while his four 10 wicket hauls at that age sees Rabada join Waqar Younis as the only two players to have done so.

The ability to take wickets is obviously vital to a side’s success and Rabada currently tops everyone when it comes to this key aspect of the game. For players with at least 120 Test Match wickets, his strike rate (balls per wicket) of 38.9 is better than any bowler in history and this skill is not just limited to the longest format of the game.
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When he reached the top of the ICC ODI bowling rankings after his display against England during the summer, he became the youngest player to be ranked number one since Saqlain Mushtaq in 1998.

It is clear that the South African quick bowler has all the natural talent to become as good as he wants to. He is no longer one of the up and coming fast bowlers in world cricket; he is arguably THE top bowler in the game right now regardless of format.

What is also apparent is that he needs to tame his emotions but if you curb that combative nature will you be taking away from his game? Many players find their edge on the limit of what is permitted within the rules and Rabada certainly seems to be one of those.

The only person who can stop him going down as one of the sports greats is himself. The scary thing for batsmen, is that Rabada is not yet 23. The records, much like the wickets, will continue to tumble around him.

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