Chaos caused by screaming deliveries keeps us riveted

Left-arm speedsters Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult have engraved their quality into recent cricket in New Zealand.

Starc spears the ball back into right-handers, runs the ball across them and delivers an array of brutal questions about technique when he hits a shorter length.

Wavering batsmen are in Starc's crosshairs as he regularly hits over 140km/h on the speed radar, writes Wynne Gray.

Boult is sneaky fast and when he gets his late swing working, his deceptive range of deliveries unsettles even the most vigilant at the crease.


Television misleads viewers about the pace Starc and Boult generate and the time batsmen have to react. Watching from side-on when they bowl shows how far back the wicketkeeper and slips cordon stand and how quickly the cherry reaches them.

That speed is one of the charms in cricket. Massive sixes fill marketing campaigns but when the quicks hit their tempo and shorten up heavily-protected batsmen, everyone's pulses go up a notch.

In New Zealand, tearaways have been like shooting stars or, like Richard Hadlee, have been astute enough to reduce their pace to prolong their careers. The most renowned express men have been Gary Bartlett, Murray Webb and Shane Bond but injury got to all of them and has also bitten into progress for Adam Milne, who has hit the high revs on the speed gun.

Lately the name Lochie Ferguson has been thrown into the headlines with frothy optimism because he propels the cherry at more than 150km/h. That express pace is a weapon but his experience and stamina are being fostered in the one-day arena rather than gambling with him in the test marathons.

At 25 and working into top-level cricket, Ferguson has time on his side.

Someone who has rushed to the top and bowls in that heart-thumping 150km/h range is Kagiso Rabada, the South African quick who will front his nation's attack when they begin their New Zealand tour next week.

After success at school, Rabada made a strong contribution at the international under-19 tournament and as that progress continued and problems bit into some of South Africa's resources, he was promoted to the big league.

On test debut in 2015 in India, his first victim was Virat Kohli. He has since collected 63 wickets in 14 tests at a cost of under 22 runs each and become a key part of South Africa's attack as injuries hit Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

Rabada is in his fast-bowling infancy at 21 but his smooth action and accuracy around 150km/h has South Africa's record wicket-taker Shaun Pollock confident the young man will go on to be one of his nation's greats.

The foundation for his gracefully potent action was set in the coaching programmes at the same school former New Zealand all-rounder Grant Elliot attended in Johannesburg, while at home, Rabada had plenty of sound advice and support from his surgeon father and lawyer mother.

Hard work, practice and humility were lessons well-heeded by the young man.

New Zealand ran into Rabada last August in several one-dayers and a test at Centurion, where the lively right-arm quick took five wickets.

He was then a primary weapon in South Africa's test series win in Australia and, back home, has been making life uncomfortable for Sri Lanka.

Rabada's skills already mark him as an exceptional talent and someone whose action is geared to extract significant yields from unwary batsmen on New Zealand's pitches.