A quick look at any of the social media accounts held by any one of the Proteas cricketers will tell you that touring India is an experience like no other.
In a place where players are treated as demigods and fans fill stadiums to capacity, the din almost unbearable as they cheer every ball bowled, it can be daunting.
Which is why Kagiso Rabada’s heroics, especially when you consider he is only 20-years-old and still in the formative stage of his career, in the opening One Day International on the weekend are that much more impressive.
It was left to the fast bowler to defend 11 runs off the final over of the game – in which AB de Villiers also contributed with a century – to see the visitors home by five runs for an early 1-0 lead in the five match series.
“It’s massive. It’s something he can bank in the memory for key overs in the future,” renowned sports psychologist Henning Gericke said yesterday in reference to the mental fortitude shown by the youngster.
“It just shows he had good composure and had belief in himself. He showed calmness, which is what you need when you have to put the ball in the right place.
“The challenge was massive and he responded. It’s a definite sign of mental toughness” he added.
Gericke also believes that the experience from players and support staff within the squad could be providing Rabada with the correct advice with regards to the mental approach needed to survive in international cricket.
His heroics brought back memories of current bowling coach Charl Langeveldt taking a hat trick against the West Indies at the Kingston Oval to help South Africa to a one-run win back in 2005.
“I worked a little bit with Charl and he’s always spoken about wanting to be in that situation and death bowling. You need to be able to deal with that pressure and embrace it. He brings something special to the bowlers in terms of being smart,” Gericke said of Langeveldt’s new role and the influence he has on the South African bowling unit.