Kagiso Rabada of South Africa during the International Test Series 2016/17 match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, 13 January 2017.
JOHANNESBURG - It was mission accomplished for the South African cricket team during, what seemed to be, a never-ending summer.
The Proteas have been playing non-stop since August 2016 and over the past seven months have featured in 11 Test matches, 16 One-day internationals, and four T20s.
The long summer has been a resounding success for coach Russell Domingo and his men who have secured series wins over New Zealand, Australia, and Sri Lanka in the three formats.
South Africa’s resurgence in world cricket could also come at a cost, in the long run.
The longevity of fast bowling prodigy Kagiso Rabada should be cause for concern.
The 21-year-old has toiled hard throughout the summer and during the recent three-match Test series against New Zealand bowled 100 overs in total.
In the absence of the injured Dale Steyn and England-bound Kyle Abbott, Rabada had to carry much of the workload this summer. He has already bowled nearly 450 overs in his 16 Test matches for South Africa.
KG is also crucial member of the Proteas attack during ODIs as South Africa will look to him to play a key role in June’s ICC Champions Trophy in England.
Lest we do not forget that the national side will also have another massive tour in the UK in May where they will feature in three T20s, three ODIs and four Tests against the Three Lions. On top of that, Rabada will also have to fulfil Indian Premier League duties in April for the Delhi Daredevils, who recently signed him for a cool 9.8 million Rand.
Rabada’s rise to international cricketing stardom has been pleasing to watch since he made his debut in November 2014. But, the demands of being over bowled in a short space of time, could be detrimental to his career as a fast bowler.
In recent matches, his pace has also dropped quiet significantly at times, another sign of fatigue for the young Highveld Lions speedster.
Like Dale Steyn, Rabada is key to South Africa’s success across all formats. However, Steyn himself will be the first to admit that his recurring elbow injuries have been as a result of playing too much cricket. ‘The Phalaborwa Express’ last featured for South Africa in November last year in Australia – before he left the field in the middle of a spell to nurse his injury.
On a positive note, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, and Chris Morris are back to full fitness after they too were sidelined with injuries in recent months.
The Proteas management team, therefore, face the arduous task of limiting the workload of their fast bowlers. But, that in itself will be a difficult task to manage as South Africa will be gunning for success across all formats during their upcoming three-month tour to the UK.
It is important that when the national side arrives back from their tour of New Zealand on Thursday that the likes of Rabada get as much rest as possible as there is still much more cricket to look forward to in the upcoming months.