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Ken Borland


From Godfather Donald to Rabada: Proteas pace rules

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada became the second-quickest bowler, in terms of deliveries bowled, to reach 250 Test wickets during South Africa’s almighty thrashing of England at Lord’s, making it three Proteas inside the top-four of that particular statistical honours list.

The great Dale Steyn tops that list, needing just 9 927 deliveries to take 250 wickets, with Rabada reaching the milestone with his 10 065th ball, a clever slower-ball that had a slogging Stuart Broad caught at backward point. Pakistani legend Waqar Younis is third on 10 170 deliveries, with Allan Donald, the godfather of Proteas fast bowling, the fourth quickest (11 559).

Since South Africa’s return from isolation in November 1991, they have taken over from the West Indies as the team that has consistently produced the most lethal fast bowlers, and it was great to see that traditional strength used to such marvellous effect at Lord’s.

Test cricket is arguably at its best, a heavenly spectacle indeed, when great fast bowlers are in action, especially these days when so much is loaded in favour of batsmen.

South Africa is clearly blessed to have four world-class pacemen at the same time in Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen, who played together for the first time at Lord’s.

Sadly, it seems they will not be given enough Test matches to put up the same numbers as some of the other great fast bowlers in the history of the game.

Rabada, for instance, takes his wickets currently at a rate of 4.71 per Test. With just 28 Test matches scheduled for the Proteas over the next five years, given the same strike-rate, Rabada will be on around 380 Test wickets, still well short of breaking Steyn’s mark of 439 as South Africa’s most prolific bowler. Even Steyn himself expected Rabada to cruise past his record, but if South Africa keep playing as few Tests as they do, it will take the man who sprang to fame as the spearhead of the U19 side that won the Junior World Cup until he is in his mid-30s to claim the record.

For neutrals, South Africa’s demolition of England at Lord’s must have made for compelling viewing. Surely the International Cricket Council would want to ensure their fans get to see more of that?

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