• KG strikes early

    Kagiso Rabada has improved his already phenomenal Test bowling strike-rate on day one against Sri Lanka.

    Proteas paceman Rabada has one of the best bowling strike-rates in Test match history, averaging a wicket every 39.2 balls, and he’s improved that on day one of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

    The Sri Lankans were looking comfortable against Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, and the wicket was looking docile. Enter the dragon, KG, and his 10th delivery brought the wicket of Danushka Gunathilaka, caught behind by Quinton de Kock, for a brisk 26 off 31 balls.

    That just proves that when you have quality bowlers who bowl quality deliveries with the right strategy, the condition of the wicket doesn’t matter so much. As with so much of cricket, a lot of it is in the mind!

    Philander didn’t seem to cause the batters much trouble as he bowled within himself early on, as did Steyn for his first few overs… but the moment Steyn started putting some back into it and challenging the batters with short balls, then the balance started to shift.

    When KG came into the attack he was immediately bowling with good pace and direction and had the batters in some difficulty. For a couple of overs, he and Steyn were looking ominous together, before Keshav Maharaj was brought into the attack.

    The talk of this Test is all about the spin-friendly wickets and slow pace off the wicket, but fast bowling is more than just the speed of the ball off the wicket. It’s so much more, and I’m sorry we haven’t fielded all four of our pacemen for this Test. I would have included Lungi Ngidi as well to really attack the Sri Lankans with shorts bursts of pace one after the other, broken up with spells from a single specialist spinner.

    Bowlers win matches, and when you have four quality pacemen you need to play to that strength. High risk, yes, but also high reward.

    KG’s third over went for eight runs… but it included a couple of wicket-taking deliveries that caused the batsmen problems. That’s why his strike rate is so good because he’s pressing the batters the whole time, looking for their weakness and their wicket.

    That’s why the early introduction of spin or medium pace is not something I’m a fan of, as it allows the batsmen to settle when you could keep them on the back foot and hopping around.

    – Simon Lewis, Editor, SA Cricket magazine


    Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

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    Simon Lewis