Faf du Plessis revealed that he and the team management had tried to stop ace fast bowler Kagiso Rabada from playing this season of the IPL with an eye on keeping him fresh for the World Cup. The South Africa captain made the admission after his team crashed out of the 2019 World Cup with a 49-run defeat to Pakistan at Lord’s.
Du Plessis’s disclosure was in response to a question on if Rabada’s lack of potency was down to fatigue. The fast bowler has bowled 303 overs in all competitions since the start of the year, 47 of which came at the IPL. Du Plessis admitted that there were even considerations towards getting Rabada back home midway through the season to allow him to rest. However, The 24-year-old quick fast bowler was in India till the end of April, taking 25 wickets at 14.72 from 12 games for Delhi Capitals.
Rabada picked up a back injury at the back-end of the tournament and was eventually withdrawn by Cricket South Africa as a precautionary measure.
“I don’t think we’ll ever have a perfect answer for that because he’s probably biting on too much,” du Plessis said on Sunday (June 23), when asked about the the fast bowler’s workload. “But we did try and get him not to go to the IPL; to try and stay and get fresh. That wasn’t the case of — and then when he went there, we were like, let’s try and get him back halfway through the IPL because it’s important, not just for him, but a few other players.
“I mean, I spoke about it before the IPL even started, that it’s important that we try and find space to rest our three-format players, because they play all the formats all the time, and then IPL.
“So I don’t think it’s not necessarily just the IPL, but it was important for a few guys to rest; and the fact that they didn’t meant that they — you know, they came into the tournament not fresh. That’s not an excuse; that’s just a fact. And KG is — you can see that his pace is probably a little bit down from where he normally is.
“But that challenge we are going to have as a team all the time. You can’t unfortunately go back with the national side and say to KG: Listen, you’re going to rest for the next two series’. He’s such a big player for the team; it’s a difficult thing to do. You know, you need guys that can…you need three or four or five bowlers in the wings waiting, so you can have a bit of a rotation system. I mean, that was the plan with Anrich [Nortje] in the back-up and pipeline, and he got injured, as well. So therefore all our pace is gone and there’s so much responsibility on KG to carry that load of being the lone fast bowler.”
Rabada, who was expected to shoulder the burden of leading South Africa’s injury-hit attack in his first World Cup, has been shackled by the effects of his draining workload. In six innings at the World Cup so far, he has returned only six wickets at an average of 50.83, a far cry from his ODI career average of 27.74.
Du Plessis, however, reckoned that this World Cup no-show was only the first stumbling block in a Rabada’s fledgling career of many highs and backed the “great bowler” to fix his issues and rediscover his fire.
“KG is trying. But I suppose, the same thing, it’s that a lot of the guys are struggling with at the moment is they haven’t started the tournament well; and therefore, your confidence has taken a bit of a hit, and it just rolls on. It’s such a snowball effect that your performance, you open your eyes, and you’re doing the same thing again,” du Plessis said.
“So that will be something that KG will need to…you know, he’s a great bowler. He will be able to fix that. His career has been one that’s been probably just going up and up and up and up and up every time he’s played for us. This is probably his first stumbling block as a great fast bowler. So for him now, it will be to show how he responds, how he learns in this period and how he makes sure he gets better. Because he has been great for us, but now he needs to take stock of where his bowling is and then try and get better as a bowler.
“At the moment, he is feeling like he needs to do something, but it’s not happening for him, and therefore, you’re not seeing that same intensity when he bowls. Or not bowls. Or when he celebrates a wicket or when he’s going through after the over bat to his mark,” du Plessis summed up.