You can’t really judge Proteas batters’ form on New York pitches, says Rabada as SA hold off Nepal

KAGISO Rabada backs his Proteas teammates to come right with the bat now that the T20 World Cup has moved to the Caribbean. Photo: AFP

KAGISO Rabada backs his Proteas teammates to come right with the bat now that the T20 World Cup has moved to the Caribbean. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 15, 2024


WITH the T20 World Cup swiftly moving toward its business end – the Super Eight – in which the tournament will fully move to the West Indies, Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada believes there will be even contest between bat and ball.

The group fixtures of the showpiece event were evenly spread between the Caribbean and United States.

As a result, the World Cup has seen a series of low totals, particularly in the US, where the uncertainty of the drop-in pitches proved to be a challenge even to the world’s best batting units.

However, cricket has been played for centuries in the Caribbean, which means the knowledge of the nature of the wickets in that part of the world will be abundant.

Moreover, the squares in the Caribbean are said to offer improved conditions to set the game up for an even contest between bat and ball.

“We do expect that the conditions are going to level up, because you had the drop-in pitches in the USA and you never really know how they’re going to play. We didn’t have a full idea of how they play,” Rabada said ahead of today’s final Proteas group match against Nepal at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Proteas pulled off a dramatic one-run victory over Nepal. SA scored just 115/7 in their 20 overs – with Reeza Hendricks top-scoring with 43 off 49 balls (5x4, 1x6) and Tristan Stubbs the only other batter to get more than 20 (27 off 18 balls, 2x4, 1x6) on a sluggish pitch.

Nepal looked well on their way to victory at 85/2 in the 14th over, as Aasif Sheikh (42) and Anil Kumar Sah (27).

But Tabraiz Shamsi (4/19) combined with Anrich Nortjé and Ottneil Baartman, who were able to maintain the pressure in the final two overs to defend 16 runs, while Gulsan Jha was run out off the last ball to see the Proteas extend their unbeaten run to four matches in Group D.

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 12, 2024

“Now you actually have squares that have been there for years here in these venues, and you’ll probably see more competitive scores. If you do bat well in these conditions, you can still reach 200.

“But you want to get a game and find pitches where you have enough in it for the bowlers and enough in it for the batters, because that’s essentially what a cricket game is – otherwise you might as well just call it batting or call it bowling.”

With South Africa having played three of their four group fixtures in New York, where batting was a struggle, the Proteas batters are still low on runs heading into the business end of the tournament.

Rabada backs his teammates to come right now that the tournament has moved to the Caribbean, and said it is common sense why the batters are low on runs, given the conditions in the US.

“The guys, you can’t really judge their form on wickets we’ve just played on. As much as it’s not an excuse, common sense would prevail, and you would say that you can’t really blame the batters,” he said.

“In saying that, no one’s got any demons – everyone’s moving forward. We play the conditions as we see them, and on our day, we know the sky is the limit in terms of batting.”

Most importantly, South Africa have won difficult games against the Netherlands and Bangladesh, which they most likely would not have won in past World Cups, given the pressure of those games.

It seems Rabada and the team have picked up confidence from those victories – enough to build belief that they could just win the country’s first World Cup title.

“The guys are really keen for the challenge. With us it’s just about winning, whether we score 96 and win, or whether we score 296 and win. At the end of the day it’s about the win and that’s what we have done so far,” said Rabada.

“I believe we’re going to win it. We just have to take it game-by-game. You can’t look too far ahead.”

As the first team to qualify for the Super Eight phase, South Africa await an opponent for their next fixture scheduled for Wednesday at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.