Jonty Rhodes has termed South Africa’s 2-1 Test series win over India as a big step in the right direction.
“It is going to be an amazing boost for the South African team’s confidence because they have not just been in transition, but there has been a bit of turmoil off the field. It is quite difficult to separate all that noise. It will go a long way in ensuring that the team can take a step back from all of that and just breathe,” the former South African cricketer said, alluding to the accusations of racism in the wake of Cricket South Africa’s SJN (Social Justice and Nation Building) hearings.
South Africa’s home Test win over India was preceded by an inspired T20 World Cup 2021 campaign, where the Temba Bavuma-led side marginally missed out on a semifinal spot. Both these results hold significant value, considering the challenges posed by a slew of retirements in recent years.
“It has been difficult. Especially if you are an unassuming captain. You really do require senior players around you to pull their weight, to add their voice; in the dressing room, on the field. Possibly because a lot of the team has been in transition, maybe the captains haven’t had that sort of support,” Rhodes said.
One of the highlights of South Africa’s triumph over India was pacer Kagiso Rabada, who topped the bowling charts with 20 wickets at 19.05. Rhodes believes the 26-year-old holds the promise of becoming a real legend of the game.
“He is a young pace bowler who has had a really heavy workload, and I think it has taken its toll. He’s learning now what fast-bowlers before him have done really well... someone like Dale Steyn learnt to manage his workload. Rabada has been so incredible in every format of the game. He is learning what is required for him to be able to play to the best of his abilities in every game that he plays. Because he is not that kind of player, who comes in to bowl less than full speed and at maximum capacity.”
India was eyeing a maiden Test series win in the Rainbow Nation but came up short. However, Rhodes hailed India as a team that would be a handful in any condition around the world and credited outgoing skipper Virat Kohli for the team’s success.
“I think where India have been really strong is that they have got a formidable bowling attack on seaming wickets now. In the past, a team like South Africa would almost bully the Indian team into submission on green wickets. But those days are done. The fact that India came to South Africa as favourites is a clear indication of the work that Virat Kohli has done.
“Without the burden of captaincy, maybe that is just going to allow him to play with a lot more freedom, which from a South African point of view is a little dangerous,” he added ahead of India’s three-match ODI series against the Proteas.
Rhodes is set to take part in the inaugural Legends Cricket League and looks forward to catching up with World Giants teammate Daren Sammy.
“South Africans are renowned for being fairly disciplined in their approach to cricket. Really looking forward to having someone like Daren Sammy with his Caribbean flair,” the 52-year-old said.
The league, which begins in Oman on January 20, will feature former cricketing legends from across the globe who will ply their trade across the three teams – India Maharajas, Asia Lions and World Giants.
Rhodes, best-known for his gravity-defying fielding, is confident of igniting some of that old spark again. “Hopefully, if anything comes airborne, I have the ability. I can take off okay. It is just the landing these days that gets a little bumpy when you get to my age.”
Watch Legends League Cricket LIVE on SONY TEN 1 (English) & SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) channels from 20th January 2022 to 29th January 2022.
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