Kagiso Rabadaduring the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Pakistan and South Africa at Lords on June 23, 2019 in London, England. Picture: ANDY KEARNS / GETTY IMAGES
Kagiso Rabadaduring the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Pakistan and South Africa at Lords on June 23, 2019 in London, England. Picture: ANDY KEARNS / GETTY IMAGES

London — Perhaps because he has spent much of his 24 years as the golden child of SA cricket‚ Kagiso Rabada does not seem to get it.

SA’s World Cup campaign foundered on the rocks of their 49-run loss to Pakistan at Lord’s on Sunday. That was their fifth defeat in seven matches‚ and it confirmed — with two games to go — that they will not qualify for the knockout rounds for only the second time in their eight trips to the tournament.

The 2019 World Cup has been‚ in short‚ a disaster for Faf du Plessis’s team. A significant reason why is the ineffective bowling of spearhead Rabada‚ who has claimed a scant six wickets at the obese average of 50.83.

His performance has not been anywhere near as impressive as in the Indian Premier League (IPL)‚ where he took 25 at 14.72.

No-one has bowled more overs in international cricket in 2019  than Rabada’s 256. The second most hard-working bowler in the game in 2019 is Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon‚ who has bowled 219.1 overs. Dale Steyn is the next busiest SA with 159.1 overs — almost 100 fewer than Rabada.

So‚ did Rabada consider‚ in a World Cup year‚ not subjecting himself to the IPL’s seven weeks of playing‚ travelling and training?

“That was basically just to rest up prior to coming to the World Cup‚ for obvious reasons like injury — being fresh coming into an important tournament‚” Rabada said.

“The plan was to leave [the IPL] early but that didn’t work out. Don’t ask me about any of that. I came back earlier‚ as you guys might know.”

That did not answer the question. Instead‚ it only hatched others.

The IPL ended 18 days before the World Cup started‚ but Rabada’s return home with what was listed as a back injury was announced 28 days before SA  and England let fly at the Oval.

Had his injury been invented to get SA out of a jam?

Rabada was not asked that question. But reporters did want to know why he has looked so flat at the World Cup despite having been such a threat in the IPL.

“I got a lot more results in the IPL‚” he said. “In this tournament‚ I think I’ve just done OK. I would have liked to have done better‚ but I’ve just done OK. These are the tournaments you really want to stand up in.

“There have been times where we’ve been really unlucky. At the same time‚ there have been times where we have let ourselves down. But there are plenty of learnings.

“That’s why we play this game. It’s not easy. As much as you want to be at the top‚ you will never find it smooth sailing. It’s extremely tough and when you’re playing out there‚ you experience all of this and all these feelings‚ the highs and the lows. And that’s a part of the game and that’s what comes with it.

“Now the key is to bounce back and to plan forward and stay positive.”

Again‚ the question was not answered.

Earth to KG: for someone of your calibre and record‚ you have not “done OK” at this World Cup. You have shown flashes of the player we know‚ but mostly you have bowled without pace and penetration‚ and sometimes even without passion.

It is too late to “bounce back and to plan forward and stay positive” in this World Cup. This tournament is gone; over‚ a failure‚ proof that SA have to rebuild their team from top to bottom if they want to again be competitive at this level.

But‚ even in denial‚ Rabada is Rabada: gold does not tarnish.