New Delhi — Kagiso Rabada’s shoulders are big enough to carry the burden of being a pace spearhead, but he is also looking to strike a balance between bowling flat out and staying the course.
Fast bowlers are cricket’s most vulnerable players and South Africans are already fretting over the workload of a 21-year-old who is tipped to lead the Proteas attack for years to come, at least once Dale Steyn heads off into the sunset.
While his pace-bowling Delhi Daredevils teammate Pat Cummins has spent much of the five years since his sensational Test debut wrapped up in cotton wool by a fearful Cricket Australia, Rabada has been playing pretty consistently since his international bow.
Still, Rabada, who first represented his country in 2014 and turns 22 later in May, reckons his young body has coped reasonably well with the considerable rigours of playing cricket in all three formats.
"I think the older I get, the harder it will get, definitely," he said in an interview.
"But I’m not there yet. So right now, it feels nice, I feel like I can do that."
With the ball in his hand, Rabada is always looking for wickets, but a parallel search is on to find ways to ensure he does not burn out.
"I think I’ve been training nicely, doing what I need to do. I’m continuously finding that balance — how much to bowl, how much to rest and how much to train."
Rabada announced his arrival on the world stage in 2015 by claiming a record 6/16, including a hat-trick, in his one-day debut against Bangladesh. His 71 wickets from 17 Tests further attest to his potential.
Rabada played six matches for Delhi Daredevils in the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) before returning home and he said the Twenty20 tournament was "a huge network of ideas".
He cited interactions with Cummins and team "chief mentor" Rahul Dravid, the India Test batting great, to illustrate his point. "Myself and Pat, we are basically the same age and bowl the same thing with very similar actions. We talk about different things about bowling, networking once again," he said.
"Speaking to someone like Rahul Dravid … what he finds hard, a lot of batsmen would find hard, too," Rabada added. "So you get insight, as a bowler, from a bowler and a batter."
Rabada feels the IPL has had a profound effect on Indian cricket and hopes SA’s T20 Global Destination League scheduled for later in 2017 will have a comparable effect here.
"A whole lot of people are in IPL because of the money. Not only the money … but money is a massive thing. Hopefully, it will be a similar thing in SA," he said. "Young players would have ambitions of playing in the league."