Overworked South Africa quick Kagiso Rabada needs a break

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South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada has had a whirlwind week in whites. Two five-wicket hauls against Australia in the second Test, a man of the match award, two send-offs to Australian batsmen and a two-match suspension for being a repeat offender.

The day after the ICC handed out the suspension, Rabada rose to the top of the Test rankings. And he has now appealed the ban. Want anything more?

The 22-year-old is one of the most exciting talents in world cricket at the moment. His raw pace, aggression and overall attitude force the public, cricket fans or otherwise, to simply watch. Very few can do that, especially in Tests with the attention span of fans bludgeoned mercilessly by T20 leagues mushrooming in all corners.

Reams of paper have been used to express anguish over the world body’s decision to punish Rabada for what many feel was an innocuous shoulder touch with Steve Smith, or to admonish the youngster for putting himself in harm’s way despite being aware of the disciplinary sword hanging over his neck.

Whether Rabada can learn to curb his enthusiasm is up to him. He is simply too valuable for world cricket to continue receiving demerit points and suspensions for send-offs and code of conduct violations.

But while Rabada’s image has taken a hit following multiple indiscretions – be it expletive laden send-offs to Ben Stokes and Shikhar Dhawan or the shoulder touch with Smith – Rabada’s body should welcome the break. Rabada has appealed the ban and may still play the third Test. But from a workload point of view, it’s a different story.

Here’s a stat for you – in the last two years Rabada has bowled more deliveries than any other fast bowler in the world (6050 balls in 59 matches). That’s more than all-format bowlers like Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult.

In the absence of Dale Steyn and irregular appearance of Morne Morkel, Rabada has become the main bowler in South Africa’s attack. That’s great for a bowler who is just in his fourth year at the highest level but not so for one of the very few genuine fast bowlers in the world.

Rabada is 6’3”. He puts a tremendous strain on his back and knees when he bowls long spells in Tests despite his smooth and repeatable action. The wickets on offer in South Africa this season have put greater demands on him as some of them have been especially sluggish. Since January, Rabada has bowled 18 or more overs in an innings in six out of 10 innings. For a true fast bowler, that’s a lot of bowling.

His overall workload is of great concern. In the last four years, only Starc (9207 deliveries) has bowled more overs than Rabada (8044 deliveries) when you look at out-and-out fast bowlers. Starc is 28 and has grown into the workload after years of build-up and gradual development. Rabada has been thrown into the deep end right at the start of his career.

If Rabada ends up missing the next two matches, it won’t be the end of the world. Suspension is not the ideal kind of break because the player’s mind is unlikely to be at ease. But at this point of a superb yet developing career, any sort of a break is welcome.

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Kagiso Rabada reclaims No1 ICC ranking after match-winning performance in Port Elizabeth

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Rabada has reached his highest-ever rating points.

Kagiso Rabada has leapfrogged England’s James Anderson to reclaim the ICC No1 bowler’s ranking in the Test format after his match-winning performance in the second Test against Australia.

The 22-year-old had picked up a five-for in both innings, finishing with a match haul of 11 wickets as South Africa won by six wickets to level the four-match series.

The pacer was awarded the man-of-the-match for his efforts but was later handed a two-Test suspension after being found guilty of two code of conduct breaches.

Rabada touched 902 rating points, his highest ever, to move ahead of Anderson (887) while India’s Ravindra Jadeja remains in the third spot (844).

Ravichandran Ashwin jumped two places in the rankings to climb to fourth position (803).

In the batting department, Australia skipper Steve Smith remained ahead of the curve with 943 points while his India and England counterparts completed the top three.

Virat Kohli remained stationary at second (912) while Joe Root retained his third spot (881).

There was a big jump for Proteas stalwart AB de Villiers after his fabulous performances in the Australia series so far. He moved back in the top 10 as he climbed five spots to claim the seventh spot in the rankings.

In the team rankings, India remained on top of the pile, having already been presented the ICC Test Championship mace while South Africa have been assured of second spot.

With New Zealand set to host England in a two-Test series, both sides have a chance to improve their rankings. The visitors could leapfrog the Black Caps into fourth spot with a series win although the hosts can reach as high as third if they turn out victors. They will however need third-ranked Australia to lose 3-1 to South Africa for that to happen.

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England women's cricketer Danielle Wyatt has a special gift from Virat Kohli up her sleeve

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Wyatt plans to use the bat gifted by Kohli in the tri-series in India.

England women’s cricketer Danielle Wyatt is a fairly well-known name among Indian fans. The 26-year-old had made headlines back in 2014 when she took to Twitter to ask Virat Kohli to marry her.

The proposal had come during the 2014 World Twenty20 where Kohli had just played a fine knock of 72 against South Africa.

Though Kohli didn’t take her proposal too seriously, the India captain did gift Wyatt a bat when India toured England later that year.

That bat could soon make its way to Indian shores when the England women’s team tours India later this month for a T20I tri-series also involving Australia.

In an interview to ESPNcricinfo, Wyatt says she plans to use the bat in the opening match of the tournament when England take on Australia on March 23. “I’m using Virat Kohli’s bat now,” Wyatt was quoted as saying.

“The bat I hit the century with broke not long ago. So now I’ll be using Virat’s,” she added.

Danielle also spoke about her marriage proposal and the mayhem thereafter.

“Ten minutes later (after the marriage tweet), I picked my phone up and I’ve got 1000s of favourites and retweets, it’s all over Indian news, they’re emailing my dad at home,” Wyatt stated.

“When we met, he said: ‘You can’t do things like that on Twitter! They take things seriously!’ I was like, okay. Sorry!”

Wyatt has appeared in 53 ODIs and 73 T20Is for England. Her dreams of marrying the superstar are long over with Kohli tying the knot with long-time partner Anushka Sharma last year. But, she will be hoping that the bat gifted by the India skipper will hold her in good stead.

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