Rabada crowned No.1 Test bowler
In an ironic twist, young Proteas quick Kagiso Rabada has been crowned the world’s best Test bowler by the ICC just a day after he was suspended by the game’s governing body for the rest of the Test series against Australia.
Rabada’s player-of-the-match performance in the second Test in Port Elizabeth, where he claimed 11-150 in South Africa’s series-levelling six-wicket win, moved him to the top of the ICC rankings for Test bowlers.
The 22-year-old has leapfrogged England’s James Anderson to be the No.1 Test bowler in the world on 902 ranking points, with Anderson (887) and India’s Ravindra Jadeja (844) rounding out the top three.
Rabada has been suspended for two Tests after his brush with Australia captain Steve Smith on day one at St George’s Park landed him a Level 2 charge by match referee Jeff Crowe, which carried a 50 per cent fine of his match fee and three demerit points to his disciplinary record.
Having entered the series with five demerit points on his record, the three he gained from the contact with Smith took his tally to eight, the next suspension threshold.
Cricket South Africa have 48 hours after the charge was issued to decide whether to appeal, with that decision still to be made.
Rabada was also hit with a Level 1 offence for his send-off of David Warner on Sunday and was fined a further 15 per cent of his match fee and awarded one more demerit point.
“A lot has been said about KG’s amazing rise,” said Proteas captain Faf du Plessis of Rabada after the second Test.
“He’s got the best strike-rate in the world, ever; I don’t think you have to stay too much more. But to have him in your side as a captain is a huge pleasure.
“The skill in which he does make the ball talk in both directions … both teams have very high-class reverse swing bowlers but what makes KG for me so special is he does it both ways at pace. And he doesn’t give a lot of bad balls away. I honestly still think KG will get better. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen in his future.”
The other big winner from the latest rankings update is Rabada’s teammate AB de Villiers, whose brilliant 126no and 28 in Port Elizabeth has seen him jump up five places into seventh on the Test batting rankings.
Smith remains in top spot on 943 ranking points, ahead of Virat Kohli (912), Joe Root (881), Kane Williamson (855) and his deputy David Warner (831).
Mitchell Starc dropped four places to ninth among the best Test bowlers, but Australia still have three bowlers in the top 10, with Josh Hazlewood in fifth, Starc ninth and Nathan Lyon 10th.
Pat Cummins looks set to one day join his teammates after moving up four spots to a career high 23rd.
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage