South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has revealed that the team had tried to dissuade fast bowler Kagiso Rabada from playing in the Indian Premier League in a bid to keep him fresh for the 2019 World Cup.
Rabada’s ineffectiveness with the ball has been one of the underlying factors behind a disastrous World Cup campaign for South Africa, as they have lost five of their seven matches in the tournament and picked up a lone victory.
Their latest defeat, against Pakistan on Sunday, June 24, has officially ruled them out of the semi-finals, ending their campaign with two games still to be played. And Rabada’s unflattering returns – he has picked up six wickets at 50.83 runs per scalp – have mirrored the performances of his team.
Part of the reason for those numbers has been a marked drop in pace. Asked whether that was a result of fatigue, du Plessis said: “I don’t think we’ll ever have a perfect answer for that because he’s probably biting on too much.
Strong bowling displays from Shadab, Wahab and Amir help Pakistan complete an impressive 49-run victory over South Africa at Lord's.
Pakistan stay alive in the World Cup, while @OfficialCSA's semi-final chances are over.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) June 23, 2019
“We did try and get him not to go to the IPL, to try and stay and get fresh. That wasn’t the case, 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.”
Rabada had an excellent IPL season, picking up 25 wickets from 12 games at 14.72 for Delhi Capitals. But it was cut short due to a back niggle that prompted South Africa to withdraw him from the tournament as a precautionary measure. Du Plessis said that the lack of rest may have taken its toll on the body.
“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,” he said.
“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 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.”
"We are very firmly in the World Cup. We win our next three games, we'll qualify" – Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur after the side's win over South Africa.#WeHaveWeWill | #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/Ddw0zpiFxF
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) June 24, 2019
The South Africa captain, however, expressed full confidence that Rabada will be able to put this setback behind him and bounce back stronger. “He’s a great bowler. He will be able to fix that,” he said. “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.”