Cape Town – There is an increasing likelihood of a short-term Test-activity muzzle being placed on him for disciplinary reasons … but that should also only temporarily impede Kagiso Rabada’s relentless march to bowling greatness.
Rabada stayed on fire in the crunch first session of day four of the second Test against Australia at St George’s Park on Monday, playing the leading role in the relative implosion of the Baggy Greens’ second knock to 239 all out from an overnight 180 for five.
It meant that South Africa faced the seemingly straightforward task of reaching 101 to level the four-match series at 1-1.
With Rabada to the fore – latest haul 6/54, for match figures of 11/150 – the remaining five wickets were snapped up at a cost of only 59 runs.
A suspension for at least the next Test at Newlands and possibly also the Wanderers finale still looms large for Rabada, and perhaps with that in mind he tore in with enormous intensity and venom on day four.
It meant that at the still tender age of 22, the tearaway has now savoured a 10-wicket (or more) Test haul for the fourth time, and from only 28 Tests.
He drew level in national terms with Makhaya Ntini (four from 101 Tests), and is now just one “10-for” behind veteran colleague Dale Steyn, who has grabbed five from 86 Tests.
Rabada clearly has a bright, lengthy Test future ahead of him if managed properly, and quite possibly has a crack at matching or bettering the record tally of match 10-fors by a pace bowler, achieved by New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee (nine).
The runaway leader in that department is a spinner, Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (22), followed by Aussie leg-spin legend Shane Warne (10).
These Port Elizabeth figures were not Rabada’s best match haul: that remains the 13/144 he snared against England at Centurion in January 2016, and his other 10-wicket hauls have come against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Already Rabada can now boast more 10-wicket match hauls than in the full careers of illustrious men like Glenn McGrath, James Anderson, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose -- who got three each.
His achievement at St George’s Park made him the holder of the best match figures by a South African fast bowler against Australia, although the best overall remains off-spinner Hugh Tayfield’s 13/165 at Melbourne in December 1952 – the tourists won by 82 runs.
Tayfield died in KwaZulu-Natal in 1994, aged 65.
Rabada (now 135 Tests wickets, at 21.45) is 15 wickets short of reaching the 150 mark; he would have to have a ridiculously successful next Test, wherever it is, to get there in 29 appearances, a feat achieved by both Tayfield and Steyn.
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