IPL the ideal train­ing ground for KG

His ex­po­sure to the home of 20-over cricket will hone his skills and help the Proteas

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XA­BAN­ISA sports@city­press.co.za

The de­mand for Proteas fast bowler Kag­iso Rabada went global this week when the Delhi Dare­dev­ils were suc­cess­ful in their bid for him at the In­dian Premier League (IPL) auc­tion for the third high­est fee, in a price-tie he shared with New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult, who was snapped up by the Kolkata Knight Rid­ers.

While Rabada, nick­named KG, may not have been par­tic­u­larly en­thused af­ter live-stream­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han’s bud­get speech – the 21-year-old now falls firmly into that nasty 45% tax­a­tion bracket – he still has R9.8 mil­lion worth of rea­sons to smile.

But while his auc­tion price con­firms what the past two years have been show­ing us – that we have out­stand­ing tal­ent here – will South African cricket be well served by hav­ing Rabada add a six-week-long tour­na­ment to his al­ready crowded sched­ule?

Hav­ing started his cur­rent sea­son in Au­gust, the first op­por­tu­nity that KG will get to draw a breath will be in Au­gust, af­ter the test se­ries against Eng­land.

While he is freak­ishly strong for a 21-year-old, is there a risk of play­ing him into the ground?

Li­ons coach Ge­off Toy­ana, who coached Rabada at pro­vin­cial level, thinks not. If any­thing, he is ex­cited by the player’s po­ten­tial growth in a com­pe­ti­tion teem­ing with in­ter­na­tional play­ers.

“We will have to see if the knee nig­gle he had, which prompted the Proteas to rest him this week, was a pre­cau­tion or [some­thing] more se­ri­ous, but I am not con­cerned,” said Toy­ana.

“We al­ready knew last year that he wanted to go to the IPL, but [Li­ons bowl­ing coach] Gor­don Par­sons and I ad­vised him to get ex­pe­ri­ence in county cricket first.

“The key for me is his work­load. When there are no games to play, he must not over-bowl in the nets.” Rabada is a no­to­ri­ously hard trainer. “The Proteas are also go­ing to have to look af­ter him be­cause, when he reaches the age of 24 or 25, the work­load will tell. But I do not think the IPL takes a toll on the body.”

Toy­ana said the added bonus to the move would be Rabada’s ed­u­ca­tion at what is pretty much the home of 20-over cricket: “It will be good for the Proteas go­ing into the T20 World Cup [next year] be­cause the grounds are small in In­dia and there is a small mar­gin for er­ror for the bowler.”

For­mer Proteas coach Eric Si­mons, who also coached the Delhi Dare­dev­ils in 2012/13, echoed Toy­ana’s sen­ti­ments about the op­por­tu­nity Rabada would have to learn in the IPL.

“It has been said that even test cricket is not as in­tense as the IPL be­cause of who you are up against in ev­ery game. The way in­for­ma­tion is shared in the IPL is re­mark­able. There are no se­crets. It is a good place for a young crick­eter to learn. He will be learn­ing from those guys as well, and In­dian fast bowlers have to be in­no­va­tive in those con­di­tions,” he said.

Which may well be the next prob­lem for Rabada. The young fast bowler’s main as­set has been his nov­elty fac­tor wher­ever he has gone so far. A sea­son in the IPL should mean there is lit­tle that the rest of the free world will not know about him by the time he is done.

Toy­ana is keen for his charge to box clever: “With modern tech­nol­ogy, there is lit­tle that play­ers do not know about the op­po­si­tion, but I hope KG does not re­veal all his se­crets. If he has [In­dia cap­tain Vi­rat] Kohli in his team, for ex­am­ple, Kohli will know what makes him tick, even on bad days.”

To un­der­line the im­por­tance of keep­ing some­thing up one’s sleeve, Si­mons told a scarcely be­liev­able story about the West Indies’ mys­tery spin­ner, Su­nil Narine.

“I once asked the West Indies guys if they knew what he was do­ing and they said they had no clue. They said all Narine did in the nets was bowl off spin­ners be­cause he did not know when any of them would be the op­po­si­tion in the IPL. I think Kag­iso must also be clever.”

Si­mons said the great­est is­sue for Rabada could well be his pur­chase price by the Dare­dev­ils.

“One of the bur­dens he will carry is his price tag. He has never been paid that much money to play and I have seen guys strug­gle to deal with their price tags in their first sea­son. But he strikes me as a level-headed guy.”

PHOTO: JACO MARAIS

PRIZED AS­SET Cricket coaches say that play­ing in the IPL will have more ben­e­fits than pit­falls for fast bowler Kag­iso Rabada

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