Pollock backs Rabada to shine in England

“If he continues to develop at the same rate in all formats he could become the complete bowler for South Africa”

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Former South Africa pace bowler Shaun Pollock is confident that seamer Kagiso Rabada will have a strong showing during South Africa’s tour of England and the Champions Trophy.

When the two nations last met in South Africa in December 2015 to February 2016, Rabada was the highest wicket-taker in the Test series as he claimed 22 wickets at an average of 21.90.

He followed that up with nine wickets at an average of 19.88 in the ODI series and three wickets at an average of 19 in the Twenty20 series.

With Rabada having excelled in all three formats in his last meeting with England, Pollock is excited to see the kind of damage the 21-year-old will inflict on English soil.

“He’s been a real find for us and he has definitely matured into his role at international level,” Pollock said. “If he continues to develop at the same rate in all formats he could become the complete bowler for South Africa.

“He’s still very young and has so much time ahead of him – I think we tend to forget that about him – but I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes in England, in particular with the Duke ball.

“Any fast bowler with the energy to bowl consistently at 140km/h-plus (87mph) is a useful component of any side but he’s now got a little experience of playing county cricket behind him after last summer’s spell at Kent so he’ll have a better understanding of the conditions.

“For a young man he’s already had to shoulder an awful lot of responsibility when injury has affected Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

“With Steyn ruled out of the tour and Kyle Abbott no longer available, it’s important that Rabada does well and he, Morkel and Vernon Philander make a very decent trio.”

The Proteas will kickstart their tour of England with a three-match ODI series, which begins on Wednesday, and Pollock is banking on South Africa to maintain their positive momentum in the 50-over format.

Prior to coming to England, South Africa whitewashed Australia 5-0 in an ODI series on home soil before going on to beat Sri Lanka 5-0 and New Zealand 3-2.

As a result of their strong performances, South Africa currently sit at the summit of the ODI rankings.

“They’ve played some really good cricket of late without really being challenged in the last few ODI series”

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“The team is in a good place,” Pollock said. “They’ve played some really good cricket of late without really being challenged in the last few ODI series – Australia were missing the bulk of their bowling attack, Sri Lanka struggled to compete and New Zealand were missing key components of their side.

“But they go into the Champions Trophy as number one. Playing a full-strength, balanced England side in England ahead of the tournament is ideal preparation for them as they will be able to gauge where they are and get a good feel for the conditions.”

After the Champions Trophy and three-match Twenty20 series, the Proteas will go head to head with England in a four-Test series, which is scheduled to get underway on July 6 at Lord’s.

Pollock believes that the captain Faf du Plessis and his men will be aiming to do everything in their power to walk away victorious, especially as England defeated them 2-1 in their last Test series.

“They will look back on that series with disappointment because there were opportunities they could have taken to bring the series home,” he said. “But England is a lovely place to tour from a Test cricket perspective; everyone loves going there and the South African side is the same.

“Unfortunately missing AB for the Test series is a blow – he is a match-winner who can turn a game on its head never mind the tempo of a match – but they’ve performed well under the captaincy of Faf du Plessis since he’s taken over and produced some good results, the best of which was going to Australia and winning.

“The team has travelled well and if they can adapt to English conditions there’s no reason they can’t really, really compete – and emerge on top.”

When asked about pace bowler Kyle Abbott and batsman Rilee Rossouw’s decision to give up their international careers in order to sign Kolpak deals with Hampshire, Pollock conceded that their absence will be a big loss, but added that the Proteas have already started the rebuilding phase.

“With injuries bound to happen, he would have been an ideal player to turn to”

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

“We’ve been quite exposed to quite a lot of these types of incidents in our domestic game over the years,” he said. “One thing we do have as South Africans is a wonderful ability to accept whatever transpires and look to move on. I feel that’s where the team is at.

“It was a setback – you only have to see how well Kyle is doing in county cricket to appreciate that – and with injuries bound to happen, he would have been an ideal player to turn to.

“But the team has accepted it; they went and played nicely in New Zealand and now they’ve been strengthened by the return of Morne Morkel, so it’s time to move on.”

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