JOHANNESBURG – Kagiso Rabada cut a relaxed figure as he slid into his fancy Japanese sports car at the Wanderers on Tuesday afternoon, but he is facing a race against time to be fit for the Proteas’ opening World Cup match against England on May 30.
Rabada was returning from the Wanderers Medical Sports Centre, situated within the stadium, having completed another session of rehabilitation for the “significant lower back” injury he picked up while playing in the Indian Premier League.
Part of Rabada’s rehab includes sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, where he breathes in 90% oxygen (as opposed to the usual 27% everyone does on a daily basis) to accelerate the creation of red blood cells.
“His treatment started virtually when he got off the plane…we are doing all these things to speed up recovery,” said Proteas physiotherapist Craig Govender on Tuesday.
Rabada’s recovery period has been placed at between two and three weeks, and although Proteas team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said he was “hopeful” Rabada would make a full recovery in time, the extreme measures being taken to aid his recovery illustrate the level of concern there is about his fitness.
“We are being extra cautious with KG for a couple of reasons – one, he’s had a previous back issue that kept him out of the game for a protracted period of time, and secondly, his importance to the squad.
“We are managing his rehab and return to play carefully. Yes, we are confident, but at the same time, we want to give him enough time to recover.”
Rabada probably won’t play a big part in the practice sessions when the Proteas squad gathers for a training camp starting on Sunday.
There was better news for his good mate Lungi Ngidi, who at the time Rabada sped off from the Wanderers was still sweating away in the nets, having completed his recovery from a side strain.
JP Duminy (right shoulder) and Tabraiz Shamsi (lower back) were also declared fully recovered from their ailments.
Dale Steyn will continue to be closely monitored, but the initial prognosis after his right shoulder flared up at the IPL, is good.
“He’s responded well to treatment and is showing signs of improvement,” said Moosajee.
“Nothing of significance came up in the scans compared to those done post his previous surgery.”
Following that surgery, Steyn was out of the game for over a year, but the current problem doesn’t seem as serious, and he is following a “very specific and progressive ‘return to play’ programme,” according to Moosajee.
Sadly Anrich Nortje’s World Cup dreams were dashed by a freak incident at training in Port Elizabeth on Monday, when he fractured his right thumb in the nets.
Nortje will be out of action for eight weeks, with his place in the squad taken by Chris Morris.
It’s been a season of vast ups and downs for Nortje. He garnered the national selectors’ attention during the Mzansi Super League, where some rapid spells caught the eye, but he missed the second half of that competition when he had to undergo ankle surgery.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) May 7, 2019
Upon his return, he made his international debut playing in four ODIs against Sri Lanka, and did enough there to earn an IPL contract and a World Cup spot.
But a shoulder injury put paid to the IPL, and now he won’t be travelling to England either.
Morris will join up with the squad, along with Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, once their respective spells in the IPL end.
The final of that competition is on Sunday.
The first half of the Proteas training camp will involve mostly team-building sessions before they tackle specific on-field training at Cricket SA’s High Performance Centre in Tshwane from next Wednesday onwards.
The squad depart for England on May 19.