It will be bizarre to play in empty stadiums: Rabada

South Africa and Delhi Capitals seamer Kagiso Rabada like athletes is looking forward to resumption of sports. He hasn’t though bowled after being side lined with a groin injury earlier this year. The seamers, widely regarded as one of the best contemporary fast bowlers, though says he would have been fit for the Indian Premier League in March.

However, the league has been suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic and Rabada’s comeback plans are deferred with that. While confident about regaining match fitness and form, the Proteas is disappointed about the prospect of playing without fans to cheer the players.

“It’s going to be bizarre to play in empty stadiums, especially during international matches. But the world has to move on. There will still be tough competition when teams play, and people can still enjoy that on TV,” Rabada said during his interaction with the Delhi Capitals’ fans via an Instagram LIVE session on Friday.

The seamer spoke on a variety of topics, including reminiscing his early U-19 days, talking about an impressive Indian Premier League campaign last season, and how he is spending his time during lockdown in South Africa.

“I haven’t had the chance to bowl yet or use the cricket facilities, but professional athletes are now allowed to use gyms here in South Africa, so I’m just doing enough to keep myself going. But I’m also really pleased that I’ve had such a long break from cricket after five years of continuous competition. I’ve really found it to be very relaxing,” Rabada said.

The break won’t have been that long had the IPL gone ahead as per its original schedule in March this year. “I would’ve been ready for the IPL in March. I had a tear in my groin, but I healed quite quickly, and believed I would have been able to play the IPL if it had started as scheduled,” he said. “It was something I was really looking forward to, especially after last season’s performance which was, no doubt, a huge motivator for all of us. It was also by far the most enjoyable season I’ve been part of.” Rabada added.

That apart, the 25 year old has been keeping himself busy with a podcast he has started with a friend. “I’ve kept myself busy creatively. I’ve been working on a podcast called The Viral Wellness, with a friend, where we get experts to come and talk about wellness – physical, mental, educational – and both of us just try and have some fun with the script.” he said.

Having injured his groin earlier this year, Rabada had to miss South Africa’s tour of India that was abandoned without a ball being bowled. The first game at Dharamshala was washed off and the remaining matches were suspended owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Widely known for being expressive on the field, the young bowler was also opened up on people’s perception of him. “A lot of people think I have a short temper. The thing is that sledging is a part of the game. No fast bowler is going to be nice to the batsman. But what we need to understand is that it’s never personal. After the game, you shake hands, respect each other’s crafts and move on,” said the World No. 5 ODI & Test bowler.

To a pointed question on what qualities he would want to have from other fast bowlers, Rabada said, “If I had to become a bowler by combining the best of all fast bowlers of all time, I’d pick the pace of Shoaib Akhtar, the bounce, line and length of Glenn McGrath, the aggression of Dale Steyn, and the swing of Jimmy Anderson – that’s the bowler I would love to be!”

Signing off, he also mentioned former greats he would’ve loved to bowl to. “I think Kevin Pietersen, Sachin Tendulkar, Vivian Richards and Ricky Ponting would be the batsmen I would love to bowl to,” Rabada said.

Rabada last year had returned with 25 wickets from 12 games for Delhi Capitals as he had to leave midway due to an injury.

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