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Langeveldt: Rabada not 'on song', needs to improve his control

The bowling coach also calls South African bowlers conceding at 3.96 during Australia's first innings a "red flag"

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
28-Dec-2022
South Africa bowling coach Charl Langeveldt has called on Kagiso Rabada to improve his control on flatter pitches in the same manner as Australia captain Pat Cummins, after South Africa conceded 575 for 8 at the MCG.
Having caused Australia's batters all sorts of problems in the two-day Test in Brisbane on a lively green monster, South Africa's bowlers could not contain their opponents on a flatter surface in Melbourne across three brutal days in the field as David Warner made a double-century, Alex Carey a century, and Steven Smith, Travis Head and Cameron Green all made half-centuries to grind South Africa into the dirt.
There was widespread praise for the efforts of Anrich Nortje who bowled with express pace and picked up three wickets. Langeveldt, meanwhile, singled out Rabada after he finished with figures of 1 for 144 from 28 overs with just one maiden and was the only South African bowler to concede more than five runs per over.
"I think KG wasn't on song if I can single him out," Langeveldt said. "For KG, he is a wicket-taker, he always takes wickets. The challenge always for him is to be able to control that. I think Cummins when he started off, he leaked a few runs but then he got consistent, and he was aggressive. And I think that's [Rabada's] challenge going forward to make him a brilliant bowler. At the moment he is one of the leading wicket-takers in red-ball cricket. But going forward playing on flatter wickets, I think that's going to be the challenge for him."
Rabada is currently the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2022 and is the only man in Test history with more than 200 Test wickets and strike rate under 40. Rabada's strike rate of 39.8 is better than Cummins' 46.5. Cummins has a slightly better average, but Rabada's career economy rate of 3.38 is significantly more expensive than Cummins' 2.73.
Langeveldt said Australia's run rate of 3.96 in the first innings was something that the entire group needed to take note of given it was even higher than what England's Bazballers produced (3.89) against South Africa in Manchester in August.
"It's definitely a red flag," Langeveldt said. "We always pride ourselves on bowling 18 consecutive balls and that's kind of one of our KPIs. And we haven't achieved that in this game and it's a red flag going forward. We need to improve on that.
"It's been a tough three days for us I think as a bowling unit. The first session we probably didn't start well on day one. The only problem is just our control. I think it's something that we need to speak about, something we can improve.
"But being a young bowling attack, it's not an excuse, they've played a few tests together. It's just being able to control the run rate for longer periods. But I was happy with the enthusiasm that the guys showed. I think they were brilliant. Can't fault them."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo