Steyn, who recently equalled Shaun Pollock’s tally of 421 wickets to become South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, believes his own experience can help 23-year-old Rabada develop even further.
“He’s (Rabada) way better than me. I have obviously got my records and everything but he’s way better than I am right now,” Steyn told reporters.
“What he lacks is what I have, and that’s what I can share going forward. I will just carry on doing what I do and he can feed off that, he can learn off that and he can just become so much better.”
Rabada has made rapid strides in international cricket ever since he made his debut for South Africa in 2014. Already considered to be one of the leading pacers in world cricket at the moment, Rabada is perched at the second spot in ICC’s rankings for Test bowlers behind England’s James Anderson.
In January this year, Rabada had become the youngest bowler to attain the top Test bowlers’ ranking since the 19th century. He has already picked up 151 wickets in just 32 Tests for South Africa at an average which is less than 22. He breached the 150-wicket mark in the recent second Test against Sri Lanka and became the youngest bowler in history to do so.
His ODI record is equally impressive with 80 scalps in 51 appearances so far at an average of 27.38.
While Rabada has emerged as the new face of South Africa’s Test attack, Steyn believes experienced heads will be crucial for the side in the ODI World Cup in 2019.
The senior pacer was not picked in South Africa’s squad for the ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka but he is hoping to be on the plane to England as the Proteas search for their maiden World Cup title.
“They (young fast bowlers) are all learning as they play but unfortunately you can’t go to a World Cup still learning. You need to know what you are doing,” Steyn stated.
“Even at 35 I am still learning but I know what I am doing. These guys need that. I am hoping that’s what I can offer in the white ball scene and obviously play and win games for the country.”
His call-up to the squad came after just 15 first-class matches, but national selector Ed Smith has been persuaded by a glut of stylish runs this season.
That age and inexperience should not act as a barrier was demonstrated at Edgbaston last week where Curran, more than four months younger than his county colleague, announced himself with a man-of-the-match showing in the series-opening win.
“The way he played last week can give me confidence to know I can do it,” said Pope.
“I’ve played with him since we were 14, 15 – as soon as he came over from Zim (Zimbabwe) – and we’ve gone through the same path.
“I’ve had a good season so far. I have confidence in my own game to take the next step. You hear stories of some of the greats of the game, people like Alastair Cook. I think he was 20 when he made his debut, so it’s not like it hasn’t been done before.
“Hopefully I take my chance.”
Barring an unexpected tactical switch Pope will line up at number four at Lord’s, despite regularly batting two places lower for the Brown Caps.
He would take any such promotion in his stride, though. Asked if he would take on the challenge, he said: “If required, yes. Especially against this India side, where they bowl a lot of spin.
“It’s not massively different. When I bat at six sometimes I’ve been in the 10th over, other times I’m in for the second new ball. In the four to six region I don’t think there’s a massive difference in the way you play.”
Pope does not expect to be overawed by the occasion, with social media giving him time to get used to the idea of his maiden call-up and previous experience of playing at the home of cricket helping settle any nerves.
“I read a few articles I got tagged in on Twitter…I clicked on them out of curiosity and I took them in,” he said.
“You don’t want to get your hopes too high but I had an idea.
“I’ve played quite a lot cricket here (at Lord’s) and that’s quite nice. I was here for the first morning of the Pakistan Test; I was around the changing room and had a hit at lunch so I have an idea what it’s like to be here on the first morning of a Test.
“Obviously it’s a bit different when you’re playing, it will pretty special walking out there if I get the nod.”
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the key issues.
THE STOKES EFFECT
It would be fanciful to think England’s cricketers will be distracted by events at Bristol Crown Court, huddling anxiously around a screen to hear the latest dispatches from Ben Stokes‘ affray trial. His absence from the side does have the ability to destabilise the team, though. As he proved on the final morning in Birmingham, the Durham man is a cricketer desperate to be involved in the pivotal moments and the Ashes proved how crucial his all-round skill-set can be. There is no like-for-like replacement available so everyone will have to take their share of the water.
POPE ON THE FAST TRACK
The swift promotion of Surrey’s latest prodigy, Ollie Pope, to the international arena represents Ed Smith’s most radical act in the selection hot seat. Those who have seen him in full flow – a relatively slender number given he has played a grand total of 15 first-class matches – purr at his fluency at the crease but this is a serious ask. He is pegged to bat number four, despite regularly coming in two places lower for his county, and the intensity of the occasion is sure to be step up. But in shelving the experienced Dawid Malan for a 20-year-old rookie, England are making a conscious effort to future-proof their middle-order.
SPIN IT TO WIN IT
It came as something of a surprise to see both sides field solitary spinners in the series opener, particularly after England’s long, hot summer. With Ravichandran Ashwin enjoying great success last time out India will surely be minded to fall back on an extra tweaker at Lord’s and have Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav both waiting in the wings. England face a trickier balancing act. They have the option of slotting Moeen Ali in as Stokes’ stand-in, and he would provide some dependable off-spin overs, but Chris Woakes has also been drafted into the squad and he comes closer than anyone to maintaining the match-winning formula.
ROOT’S UNLUCKY 13
England captain Joe Root‘s consistent ability to churn out half-centuries is as admirable as his inclination to falter before three figures is frustrating. Nobody is more aware of his modest conversion rate than the skipper, who has frequently spoken of his desire to become more ruthless when he is set. He has waited almost a year, and 22 innings, to go from 13 to 14 Test tons and a ground where he already has three entries on the honours board could be the perfect place to put that right.
CAN PUJARA BE KOHLI’S FOIL?
Kohli must wonder what more he can do after reeling off 200 runs in a losing cause. The answer is, not a lot, but the same is not true for his top-order colleagues. India badly need somebody to knuckle down and chip in with a major contribution and the most likely candidate could be the man who sat out at Edgbaston. Cheteshwar Pujara made a good decision in signing for Yorkshire to acclimatise to English conditions but his lack of red-ball form in that stint ultimately counted against him. Yet he still averages over 50 in Test cricket – considerably more than Murali Vijay or Shikhar Dhawan – and looks ripe for a recall.