The lack of a genuine all-rounder in the Proteas one-day team – and in fact the Test side – continues to stymie both sides’ progress.
Vernon Philander’s continued injury layoff has affected the Proteas’ batting depth in the Test side, and while Chris Morris proved adept with the bat when he came into the Test side, his bowling is not good enough to keep him in the team when Philander returns.
With Rabada already secured in the Test team – and Morné Morkel perhaps under pressure for his place when Philander and Dale Steyn are back from injury – the batting line-up would automatically be strengthened.
The 20-year-old Rabada is set to play county cricket for Durham during the South African winter, with a stint there able to prepare him well for the Proteas’ tour to England next year.
But he could gain additional value out of the experience by honing his batting skills in the UK. With the Proteas wary of his high workload already this summer, he could have restrictions placed on him in terms of the amount of overs he can bowl, whether in an innings or possibly even at practice.
So, it could give him some extra time to work on his batting, which has shown some pleasing traits during the England Test series.
Rabada appears to get right behind the ball, has a good stride forward and can play the short ball well. He is not scared to pull or hook, and has a sound defence as well. All the mechanics of a top batsman are seemingly in place – now it’s just a case of getting an opportunity and more of a relaxed game situation for him to occupy the crease for longer, which is what he would get on the county circuit.
Ahead of the crucial third ODI against England, taking place in Centurion on Tuesday, Amla was asked about whether Rabada could develop into a quality all-rounder. This was after the former Test skipper spoke about the problems around the balance of the Proteas side, as they have opted to play seven batsmen and just four specialist bowlers in the first two games.
It has resulted in a major problem with the fifth-bowler ration of 10 overs, which has been shared by part-timers JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien. They conceded 93 runs in the first ODI in Bloemfontein, when England scored 399/9, and went for 62 in the second defeat in Port Elizabeth, where the visitors easily chased down 263 for victory to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
“I know there’s been a lot of chat about having five front-line bowlers. JP and Fudgie (Behardien) have tried to contain as many runs as they can, but England are a team that bat very deep. AB (de Villiers, captain) has tried to juggle it as best as he can and I don’t know what has been decided for tomorrow’s match,” Amla said on Monday.
“But certainly, five front-line bowlers in this day and age, especially with the flat wickets that we have come across – especially in the first game – I suppose it does push an argument for that. But it’s difficult to comment on what the brainstrust is thinking.
“We were on target in the first game, and the fact that England bat to number 10 gave them a bit of a cushion to keep going. So, maybe in that respect, they edged us. Our best bowlers are playing and our best batsmen are playing. You can’t have 11 batsmen, but if you have the personnel to have enough bowling and bat deep like England do, then you would consider that.”
And Rabada as an all-rounder? “There is a possibility – he takes his batting very seriously. We joke when he bats, he looks a bit like Chris Gayle! So, if he develops into that, it would be great!” Amla quipped.
“But he takes it seriously and he is a talented youngster, and with the right, nurturing environment and people behind him and encouraging him, sure, why not?”
Veteran Albie Morkel was identified as the solution to the all-rounder position in the ODI team after a recent good run with the Titans, but he sustained a back injury and couldn’t play. One of Morris or David Wiese is likely to replace Behardien in Centurion on Tuesday, while Rilee Rossouw may also make way for David Miller at number six.
Wayne Parnell has been in excellent form with the bat and ball for the Cape Cobras in limited-overs cricket, and deserves a recall based on sheer runs scored and wickets taken.
But he has not been utilised by the national team – despite his former Warriors coach Russell Domingo being at the helm. Perhaps a few untimely short injury layoffs this season may have made the Proteas selectors reluctant to give the 26-year-old another chance due to a chequered injury history.
But based on current performance, he should have been in the squad ahead of Wiese at least.
*Follow @IndyCapeSport on Twitter for live updates of Tuesday’s ODI at Centurion, which starts at 1.30pm.
@IndyCapeSportHashim Amla believes Kagiso Rabada could solve the Proteas’ all-rounder issues in future.
Original source: Rabada ‘like Chris Gayle’ when he bats!