Rabada spit­ting fire at Kent

An in­stant hit with his trade­mark yorker un­der the sunny skies of Can­ter­bury Proteas 2017 tour dates

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

EV­ERY­WHERE Kag­iso Rabada goes, the sun seems to shine on South Africa’s pace bowl­ing sen­sa­tion.

He is cur­rently in Eng­land en­joy­ing a short stint at the Kent Spit­fires, for who he made an im­pres­sive T20 Blast de­but against the Sus­sex Sharks on Thurs­day.

After a cold and wet start to the English sum­mer, the 21- year- old’s first ap­pear­ance for Kent played out on a glo­ri­ous Can­ter­bury day – so much so that the match had to be stopped twice for “bad light” due to the glare of the set­ting sun.

Rabada, fresh off a plane from the Caribbean where he was a stand­out per­former in the Proteas’ dis­ap­point­ing TriNa­tion Se­ries against the West Indies and world cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia, cer­tainly en­joyed his new sur­round­ings.

He de­liv­ered a Man-of-the­Match per­for­mance with a haul of 2/ 31 from four overs to help pro­pel Kent to a 10- run vic­tory.

His wick­ets in­cluded what is now quickly be­com­ing a trade­mark de­liv­ery – a 144.5km/ h yorker that up­rooted Sus­sex opener Chris Nash’s off-stump. It was a copy of the South African’s de­liv­ery that cas­tled Windies star Mar­lon Sa­muels last week in Bar­ba­dos.

Rabada also dis­missed for­mer Eng­land T20 in­ter­na­tional Luke Wright, who was bril­liantly caught on the third man bound­ary by David Grif­fiths.

“It was a great start for my de­but and I’m just happy that I could con­trib­ute and that the team has won. It’s a good start for me and hope­fully we can get some mo­men­tum from this,” Rabada told Kent’s of­fi­cial web­site.

“It was quite a good wicket but most of the guys felt we fell a bit short runs- wise, so credit to all the bowlers be­cause we made it tough for them to score and got wick­ets Tour to New Zealand Fe­bru­ary 17: First T20 In­ter­na­tional, Eden Park, Auck­land Fe­bru­ary 19: First ODI, Sed­don Park, Hamil­ton Fe­bru­ary 22: Sec­ond ODI, Ha­gley Oval, Christchurch Fe­bru­ary 25: Third ODI, West­pac Sta­dium, Welling­ton March 1: Fourth ODI, McLean Park, Napier March 4: Fifth ODI, Eden Park Auck­land March 8-12: First Test, Univer­sity Oval, Dunedin March 16-20: Sec­ond Test, Basin Re­serve, Welling­ton March 25-29: Third Test, Sed­don Park, Hamil­ton Tour to Eng­land May 24: First ODI, Head­in­g­ley, Leeds May 27: Sec­ond ODI, Rose Bowl, Southamp­ton May 29: Third ODI, Lord’s, Lon­don June 1-19: ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy June 21: First T20I, Rose Bowl, Southamp­ton June 23: Sec­ond T20I, County Ground, Taunton June 25: Third T20I, Sophia Gar­dens, Cardiff July 6-10: First Test, Lord’s, Lon­don July 14-18: Sec­ond Test, Trent Bridge, Not­ting­ham July 27-31: Third Test, The Oval, Lon­don Au­gust 4-8: Fourth Test, Old Traf­ford, Manch­ester at cru­cial times.”

After his open­ing burst, Rabada closed the game for Kent after cap­tain Sam North­east handed the young speed­ster the re­spon­si­bil­ity of bowl­ing the last over with the Sharks re­quir­ing 23 runs to win.

Rabada con­ceded just 12 runs, with his sec­ond-last ball be­ing hit for a six to spoil his oth­er­wise im­pres­sive fig­ures.

The man from Jo­hannes- burg has ad­mit­ted on so­cial me­dia that he is “miss­ing South Africa and it’s di­verse cul­tures” after a long spell on the road.

But he has warmed to the Kent lo­cals, and has said that Can­ter­bury “al­most feels like I’m com­ing home”; Proteas Justin Kemp, Ryan McLaren, Martin van Jaarsveld, Ver­non Phi­lan­der, Wayne Par­nell, Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini have all spent time at Kent in re­cent years.

Rabada’s new team­mates are cer­tainly en­joy­ing hav­ing him around in the dress­ing- room, with Sam Billings tweet­ing after Thurs­day’s game: “Great @ kentcricket team per­for­mance tonight! Crack­ing day­bu­uuw @ Kag­isoRabada25 – onto Chelms­ford tomo #Su­perKent”

Proteas coach Rus­sell Domingo has ex­pressed his con­cerns about the na­tional team play­ers’ work­loads and com­mit­ments out­side of in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

But Rabada’s con­tracted eight-match spell in the United King­dom can only ben­e­fit South Africa in the long term.

It is the first time that he will be ex­posed to the ex­tra swing and vari­ables of the Duke ball, in com­par­i­son to the Kook­aburra used back home and the rest of the world.

The Proteas’ next ma­jor tour­na­ment as­sign­ment is the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in the UK next year.

BACKPAGEPIX

HEITA! Kag­iso Rabada’s ex­po­sure to the Duke ball in the UK can only ben­e­fit him and the Proteas in the long term.

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