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Proteas focused on World Cup goals in West Indies despite player absences for T20I



Proteas focused on World Cup goals in West Indies despite player absences for T20I

Seven of the 15-player squad readying to take on West Indies in a three-match T20I series are not part of the World Cup squad. Nonetheless, everyone is rallying together for the greater good.

The Proteas take on West Indies in a three-match T20I series starting on Thursday evening. While it is an official bilateral series, it was initially intended to serve a dual purpose of warm-up matches with the T20 World Cup coming into sharp focus.

That has been thrown out the window with several Proteas stars, including skipper Aiden Markram currently in India, fighting for the Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy.

It’s a strange situation. Rassie van der Dussen, has been made captain of the side in Markram’s absence, even though the 35-year-old is not part of the World Cup squad.

He, however, believes there’s “nothing to prove” on this tour for him. Currently one of only two players in the world with over 1,000 runs this year in T20 cricket, it’s understandable why Van der Dussen feels that way.

“I don’t feel like I need to prove anything,” he said from Jamaica on Wednesday. “It’s pretty standard what I’m about as a cricketer.

“The coach has to pick a World Cup squad and there’s only 15 guys that can go.

“He has to come up with combinations that he feels gives us the best chance and as a greater squad and as a country, that’s what it’s all about.”

Van der Dussen, in his new leadership role, has rallied the side together for the greater cause of winning a first World Cup trophy, despite seven of the 15 players in the West Indies not being part of next month’s tournament squad.

“I’m not in a situation where I haven’t played a lot of cricket or even international T20s, being captain, yes, that’s a new challenge for me,” he said.

“I will, from my side, try to instil what I think is important, what I think can help the guys going to the World Cup and put in a performance there.

“It’s a greater squad, it’s a greater team — in terms of the backroom staff, Cricket South Africa — we’re all fighting towards the same goal.

“The important thing is for everyone to give their input and trust the guys who have been entrusted in doing a job for us.”

Greater good

There is still an opportunity for one or two players to put their hands up in this series for a travelling reserve spot, with final squads only needing to be submitted on 25 May.

Nonetheless, the focus in preparation for the series against West Indies has been on getting the players who will be battling in the global showpiece ready for the challenge.

“There’s a certain way we want to play and to nail that down. From a bowling and batting point of view — we know there’s a bigger picture which is the World Cup — there’s no dancing around that.

“These matches will — for the guys going to the World Cup — prove vital. Especially coming back, hopefully, for later in the playoffs because the conditions in the Caribbean are quite similar in all the countries.

“To take as much as we can from a conditions type of mindset and the guys who haven’t been here and obviously to hone in on the skills and the gameplans that we want to execute.

“As a greater squad, we have been playing together for a few years now so luckily for us, it’s not a case of guys coming in and not exactly knowing what the team dynamic is about and the team philosophy and the soul of what we’re trying to achieve.

“From that point of view, it’s not a big problem.

“The opportunity here is for — Ottniel Baartman, Ryan Rickelton — and those types of guys who haven’t been here to get a feel for what’s going on.

Baartman and Rickelton will both make their T20I debuts if they are selected for tomorrow night’s match. The pair are also both in the World Cup squad.

“They’re world-class players in their own right but if the new guys can get in a few performances that will be great,” Van der Dussen said.

Spinning webs

There’s also a potential debut for exciting young spin wizard Nqaba Peter. The 21-year-old broke through in the CSA T20 Challenge recently, claiming 20 wickets in only 10 matches.

“I foresee a massive future for him,” Van der Dussen said about his Lions teammate. “He’s a good kid, he has a good head on his shoulders.

“The nature of the legspin he bowls is not something you can really teach anyone. It’s almost like a guy that has raw pace.

“He’s come through very quickly in the last few months but in terms of a future for him, he’s a bright prospect. I can see him playing a lot of cricket, hopefully, for a long time for South Africa.”



‘Heaps of talent’ Rabada says of Maphaka, with the two quicks boasting many similarities



Kagiso Rabada has taken young Kwena Maphaka under his wing at his sporting agency, helping to guide him to his full potential.


Kwena Maphaka wrote his name in the history books at the under-19 World Cup this year. The young left-arm quick bowler took 21 wickets in the six matches he played — the second most in a single tournament — taking his overall tally to 28 wickets in nine matches at junior World Cups.

His 28 scalps are tied most with Zimbabwe’s Wessly Madhevere, although Madhevere took double the number of matches to reach the total.

Despite the standout performances by Maphaka throughout the competition, South Africa were felled by India at the semifinal stage.

His rapid pace and control beyond his years exhibited at the tournament saw Maphaka earn a surprise Indian Premier League (IPL) contract with the Mark Boucher-led Mumbai Indians.

A decade prior, at the 2014 edition of the under-19 World Cup, it was Kagiso Rabada’s pace, bounce and fierce competitiveness that caught the eye.

Rabada only played five matches but took 14 wickets, including a return of six wickets for 25 runs in the semifinal of the showpiece against Australia to book South Africa’s ticket to the final.

The Aiden Markram-captained side clinched the final and the tournament with a convincing six-wicket win to secure South Africa’s first-ever World Cup silverware, albeit at under-19 level.

It took Rabada a little while longer to break into the IPL, making his first appearance in 2017 as a 21-year-old. Nonetheless, the paths of the two fast bowlers — paved by Rabada — are very similar.

A similar path

Both bowlers attended St Stithians College high school in Gauteng where they began to hone their skills.

And while the resemblances to their careers are almost identical at this stage, Rabada is eager to avoid any comparison so as to not add any pressure on Maphaka

“There are a lot of similarities there,” Rabada said to Cooking365. “Both bowlers, both came from Saints, both are bIack, both our names start with a K as well.

“But he has his own journey to walk now. The last thing that you want is people to be comparing him to me or comparing him to [Jasprit] Bumrah or comparing him to Shaun Pollock.

“He’s his own guy. It’s nice to be compared to certain players but I think he’s going to write his own story so I can’t wait to see what that entails.”

While Maphaka’s story is in his own hands, Rabada is willing to provide some of the tools to write it.

Rabada, alongside sports businessman Ashley Kotzin, co-founded a sporting agency called KGR Sport and Entertainment. They have signed several sports stars including Protea women Ayabonga Khaka and Karabo Meso.

Read more in Daily Maverick: It’s been very quick progress for a young Joburg cricketing prodigy

Maphaka has also recently penned his signature to the agency. This provides Rabada with an opportunity to take the 18-year-old under his wing.

“Kwena comes from a good family. He’s a good kid and he’s got heaps of talent,” the Red Bull athlete explained.

“The goal there is to provide opportunity and also to nurture talent and also to look at nurturing not only on the field but also off the field. It’s about having that holistic approach.

“I definitely did have a conversation with [Maphaka] to say there’s no pressure on him.

“There’s absolutely no pressure on him and he’s got the world at his feet. The world is his oyster and he’s going to have to do a lot of hard yards.

“There’s going to be lots of ups and there’s going to be downs too. It’s just the way he’s going to navigate through the lows and the highs too that’s going to be a defining factor.

“But everything is there. He’s got the mind, he’s got the skill, he’s got the talent.

“Now it’s for him to just keep ticking on.”

A slow start

Maphaka had a rude awakening to the IPL, conceding 66 runs and taking no wickets in his first outing against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

His second match went slightly better as he picked up his maiden wicket, that of Indian opener Yashasvi Jaiswal. His economy rate still exceeded 11 though and he only bowled two overs.

Those were consecutive matches at the end of March and start of April. He didn’t play another match.

Rabada’s introduction to professional cricket wasn’t smooth sailing either. In his first international match for the country, as a 19-year-old, he conceded 11 runs off his first over.

It’s only been uphill since then for the Proteas spearhead, who has, through experience, learned to keep asking for the ball even if he has been smashed before.

“It’s a mixture of decision-making and intuition in terms of where you feel the game’s headed, and what you feel the batter’s going to do,” Rabada explained about his thought process when under the pump in a match.

“It’s a mixture of gathering data around what the pitch is doing, the dimensions of the ground and where your team is — whether you’re under pressure or not.

“Then it’s about gathering all of that [information] and making a decision whilst you’re walking back to your mark and when you get to your mark, it’s about having made a decision.

“When you start running in, you just trust that whatever you worked out is going to come off.

“Other times, it’s also about competition. You’re not just going to let anyone hit you around. It’s competition, you need that too, that bit of gees,” he said.

Maphaka, while walking his own journey, is the perfect mentor to help with guidance in Rabada, who was able to develop from a junior prodigy into a global superstar.



Proteas focused on World Cup goals in West Indies despite player absences for T20I

Proteas focused on World Cup goals in West Indies despite player absences for T20I

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