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Updated December 26th, 2023 at 22:16 IST

If Proteas play 2 Tests a year how will Rabada reach 400 wickets, fumes Ntini

Kagiso Rabada is already in the pantheon of great South African fast bowlers, but if the Proteas play only a limited number of Tests a year, he can never surpass Dale Steyn’s record of 439 wickets, reckoned Makhaya Ntini on Tuesday.

kagiso rabada
Kagiso Rabada | Image:PTI
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Kagiso Rabada is already in the pantheon of great South African fast bowlers, but if the Proteas play only a limited number of Tests a year, he can never surpass Dale Steyn’s record of 439 wickets, reckoned Makhaya Ntini on Tuesday.

In fact, the on-going first Test against India here is only their third traditional format match in 2023.

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Ntini, one of the pace greats from SA with 390 Test victims, was asked if Rabada, who now has 285 scalps can be termed among the stalwarts such as Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Steyn and Ntini himself.

“He is already up there (among greats). When you talk about those guys, when you talk about those bowlers, they have passed the 400-mark and KG (Rabada) is chasing the 300-mark. But we have got a massive problem.

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“You are playing two Test matches a year and what is that? Do you think this guy (Rabada) can hold up till he gets to that milestone,” Nitini, now a noted commentator, told PTI.

“It’s not going to be easy for the nature of games (number of matches and formats) that is being given to South Africa to play against other countries,” he said, citing the problem of Proteas playing just three Tests this year.

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Then there is the mushrooming T20 leagues and the money they carry. Young SA pacer Gerald Coetzee attracted Rs 5.60 crore (over a million SA Rands) from IPL outfit Mumbai Indians recently in the auction.

So, is Test cricket’s priority shrinking? Ntini made no bones about how he looked at the situation.

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“No! Your country is your priority. Take the example of Kagiso. How many Test matches has he played and he still continues to play IPL.

If Gerald Coetzee today thinks that he is getting a million rands and what he should do now, that will be his biggest mistake,” said Nitini.

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“When you continue playing Test matches, you get more understanding of the game because in Tess, you get five days to consistently put the ball in right areas, so when you go to IPL, you know how to put the ball in right areas,” he said.

Ntini is an old school person, who still believes in Test cricket’s value.

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“We were taught Test matches give you recognition throughout the world. If I want to bowl 10 overs and go for seven runs, they will call you expensive.

But in a Test match, you will have more time to come back. Your fitness is tested. In ODIs, you bowl six overs and its okay. In T20s, you bowl 2 overs, it can be okay. Where will you be recognised?” So, has any IPL team ever approached him? “No IPL team has ever approached me. I haven’t been approached here at home,” pat comes the reply.

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Ntini feels, perhaps, his outspoken nature has caused the trouble. “Man, I would never know. From my side of things, I am available to be part and parcel of the system but they don’t see it that well. Some people don’t like being outspoken,” he quipped.

Ntini doesn’t like interference in his work and that’s the reason he could never be an establishment man.

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“If I say to you ‘My office is my office and I will come to you when I need you, and you can’t barge into my office and tell me what to do, so if I don’t do what you tell me to do, you are going to fire me,” he said.

Why is Bumrah special? ===================== Having played against some quality fast bowlers like Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan during his playing days, Ntini has no qualms in admitting that Jasprit Bumrah is special.

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“Look where Bumrah releases the ball. He releases the ball from the top of his head. So, he gets the angle to bring the ball back in. He can get deliveries to straighten after pitching.

I don’t know if he has powerful wrists and action is always the same, that’s how beautiful it is. His yorkers, he doesn’t miss any, those are the things everyone gets to enjoy. India isn’t the team without Bumrah,” he added. PTI KHS UNG

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Published December 26th, 2023 at 22:16 IST

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