The trio of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have the opportunity this summer to cement themselves as the new spearhead of Proteas fast bowlers, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
Undeniably the best pacemen in South Africa at the moment, the three players will return from the IPL in the coming week to begin their preparations for the upcoming series against England and then the arrival of Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan at a later stage.
Together they haven’t played an awful lot of cricket but all the ingredients are there for them to establish themselves as a new and fresh bowling unit that can lead the Proteas to great success in all formats.
One big positive that came from last season’s international match-ups was the idea that Mark Boucher and his coaching staff would do a large deal of experimenting with the squads selected to face England and Australia.
The Proteas only managed to win the ODI series against Aaron Finch’s men towards the end of the summer, but a handful of players did put their hands up with either bat or ball.
In the process, it allowed some rest for someone like Rabada, who before the 3-0 series whitewash of the Aussies, had played almost every Test, T20I and ODI match for South Africa over a long period of time.
A rotation system like that will genuinely help ease the workload of Rabada and Ngidi, who in the past have struggled with various injury concerns.
With Nortje now also firmly part of the bowling set-up, the Proteas have a set of fresh, raw bowling talents, who have proven their quality and determination against the best there is.
Individually they have also developed some killer instinct that will have them go at opposition batsmen at 100% for as long as they possibly can.
Ngidi proved that with his excellent showing in white-ball cricket last summer, which ultimately led to him being named ODI Player of the Year for the Proteas. In the same period, Nortje showed his potential to deliver across all formats after a breakthrough season in the Test fold.
We can’t forever bang on saying how good the likes of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel were over the years for the Proteas. We seem to have been caught up in a delusion of their brilliance without focusing on properly replacing them.
This summer will be the first time the Proteas take the field without any of those three stalwarts, at least in Test cricket, which will put the spotlight firmly on Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje.
The new trio have all the qualities in the world, but it’s time for them to fully take the bull by the horns and lead the Proteas to new heights and much-needed success on the field.