Cape Town - The return of a fired-up Kagiso Rabada is a timely boost for the Proteas ahead of the third Test match against England starting at The Oval in London on Thursday.
The 22-year-old missed the second match in Nottingham due to a one-match suspension following an ICC Code of Conduct breach, but returns to add the extra edge to an attack brimming with confidence.
“KG is one of our best bowlers,” Proteas bowling coach, Charl Langeveldt said at the squad’s practice in London on Monday. “He is the type of guy who steps up when the heat is on. Having KG back is a big bonus for us. He is a youngster with a lot of energy, he will come with a lot of energy. I have no doubt he will step up.”
Rabada has been hard at work during his suspension, while most of the players returned physically and mentally refreshed at the squad’s practice on Monday after a week-long break. He will be looking to grow his tally of 77 wickets in 18 Tests since his debut late in 2015, which includes becoming the youngest South African to take 10 wickets in a Test match with his match haul of 13/144 against England last year.
“He did a lot of work before play during the second Test in Nottingham,” Langeveldt said. “He bowled his overs and got his workload up, he will be raring to go. “He has been positive,” he said of Rabada’s morale. “He was obviously disappointed about what happened but he has learned from that. The important thing about an incident like this is to learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again. KG is a strong character and he was positive the whole week, he said come Thursday he wants to be ready for the Test.”
Past scores at The Oval suggest more batting-friendly conditions compared to the seam and pace at Trent Bridge, which makes the return of Rabada’s raw pace a timely one. Langeveldt says the bowlers will have to take an ‘aggressive’ approach to succeed in the more placid conditions.
‘It all depends on the overhead conditions,” he said. “We could come here on Thursday and it could be nice for bowling, it looks like there is a bit of grass. If you look at the stats it has always been good for batting. We will have to be a bit more aggressive in the second innings, and in the first innings try to contain and do the basics as well and as long as possible.”
Coach, Russell Domingo has re-joined the squad following a family bereavement, while JP Duminy has been released and will return home to South Africa.