Kagiso Rabada (left) and Mitchell Starc © AFP
Kagiso Rabada (left) and Mitchell Starc © AFP

Australians have been open enough to admit the Kagiso Rabada threat. Their assistant coach, Brad Haddin termed Rabada’s ban an advantage for Australia ahead of the third Test of the series at Cape Town. Watching an in-form Rabada steam in is a spectacle. Only 22, he is the No.1 Test bowler in the world and during the Port Elizabeth Test, he claimed a 11-for in the match to bowl South Africa to a series levelling win against the visiting Australians.

From Steven Smith to Darren Lehmann to Haddin, all have hailed Rabada’s show and the latest to join the bandwagon is his opposite number Mitchell Starc, who too is regarded amongst the foremost pacers in the world. In fact, the first two Tests of Australia’s tour of South Africa has been more about quality exhibition of reverse swing from both, Rabada and Starc.

It’s a shame that Rabada earned a two-Test ban after he was found guilty of shoulder barging Smith. South Africa have appealed against the ban and the ball is in the court of a judicial commissioner.

Kagiso Rabada ban: South Africa name high-profile advocate to represent case
Kagiso Rabada ban: South Africa name high-profile advocate to represent case

In what has been a series of flaring tempers, Starc hailed Rabada the bowler and backed him to learn from his mistakes. Starc, too, admitted to his share of mistakes and how he had learned over the time.

More impactful than Dale Steyn?

“He’s only young and made a couple of mistakes,” AAP quoted Starc, who himself has been booked in his early stages of career for violating code of conduct.

“He’s a fantastic bowler to watch when he’s in full flight and he’s going to keep taking wickets and keep celebrating. What’s he got now, four 10-fors? Dale (Steyn) has got five in a crapload more Test matches.

“I’m sure he’ll learn going forward that you just can’t get that close to the batter and the umps are going to be on you at all times.

“It’s very much a no-no … which I’ve learnt in the past.”

Smith, Lehmann praise Rabada

Rabada’s ban makes Australia favourites for the Cape Town Test but Smith and coach Lehmann took no delight at the ICC decision. Lehmann noted, “it’s never good seeing fantastic bowlers out of series”, while Smith has always suggested his penchant for “go up against the best players as much as you can”.

Rabada has 135 wickets from 28 Tests at 21.45. Among bowlers with more than 100 Test wickets, he has the second best strike-rate. His 38.9 balls per wicket is only behind George Lehman’s 34.1. Mind you, Lohmann played in the 19th century.