Kagiso Rabada, the Proteas' top strike bowler, admitted on Monday that the previous season was a disappointment, backing up the statistics which show that it was the 25-year-old's poorest since he began playing Test cricket for South Africa.
The former No 1 bowler in the world played six Tests in the 2019/20 season and took 21 wickets at an average of 32.85, the first time since making his debut in 2015/16 that his average has dipped into the 'mediocre' thirties. His previously least successful season was 2017, in England, when he took 16 wickets in three Tests at 28.43.
His career figures of 197 wickets in 43 Tests at an average of just 22.95 are a truer reflection of the immense talent he possesses.
To make matters worse, Rabada missed the crucial fourth Test against England at the Wanderers earlier this year when the Proteas had a chance of levelling the series, after being suspended for once again provocatively celebrating in the dismissed batsman's face.
The Wanderers has been a happy hunting ground for the Central Gauteng Lions star, with 24 wickets in five Tests there, at an average of just 20.54.
Rabada did not play in an ODI over the summer, but his performance in the World Cup last year was a let-down as he took just 11 wickets in nine matches, at an average of 36.09 and an economy rate of 5.08.
"This Covid-19 has affected people from multiple points of view and there are a lot of economic challenges, but I've been glad to get the rest, just not in the way it came, because the last five years have gone really quickly and there's been a huge volume of cricket," Rabada said.
"So I've really, really enjoyed the break, it's allowed me to think about what I really want, which makes it easier to set goals.
"The past season was disappointing. My stats were okay but I felt really rusty and a bit out of place. But it's never supposed to be easy at international level and next season I will just take it day by day and try and achieve a new set of goals.
"Whatever I can contribute to the team winning would be great. That means you enjoy your cricket more and I am 150% committed to South African cricket."
Rabada did not seem overly concerned with his overexuberant celebrations, which had landed him in trouble with match referees and had distracted from the focus of the Proteas at key times.
"It's just passion. I've identified the things I need to work on and I will address those with the people closest to me and those people who I feel should help me," said Rabada, who was helping out the World Health Organisation with his Viral Wellness initiative along with Cameron Scott and Kingdom Kome.
"People are always going to criticise you in some way and it's important not to take that to heart. You will always have critics, no matter what you do and what others say should not affect you.
"It's up to you what you want to reflect on and it's got nothing to do with anyone else."
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