Kagiso Rabada’s 11-wicket haul in the second Test at St George’s Park has propelled him back to the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Test Rankings for bowlers.
Having been No.1 briefly at the start of the year, he replaces England’s James Anderson and has reached 902 points, his highest career rating to date.
Australia’s opening bowler Mitchell Starc drops four places to ninth after taking a single wicket during the Port Elizabeth Test.
Rabada took 5/96 and 6/54 in South Africa’s six-wicket win that levelled the four-match series at 1-1 with two to play.
The match figures of 11/150 are the second best by a South African bowler against Australia.
Unfortunately for South Africa and Rabada he will miss the rest of the series following his suspension for repeated breaches of the ICC Code of Conduct.
At only 22, his is a remarkable rise to prominence. He has taken 135 wickets in 28 Tests and already has four 10-wicket hauls. Dale Steyn is the only South African to have taken more but his five have come in a career spanning 86 Tests.
He already has more 10-wicket hauls some fine bowlers like Glenn McGrath, James Anderson, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and Allan Donald.
Plenty of very decent bowlers never even took a 10-wicket haul in a Test match.
No fast bowler has come close to the number of wickets Rabada has taken in the period since he made his Test debut against India in November 2015.
Australia’s Josh Hazlewood, with 106 wickets, is the closest quick to him and only India spinner Ravi Ashwin, with 166, has taken more wickets in that time than Rabada.
The South African now has the second-best Test strike rate of all time (38.9) among bowlers who have taken 100 or more wickets. Only the 19th-century England medium-pacer George Lohmann is ahead of him.
"It's what I always wanted to do,” Rabada said when he reached No.1 for the first time in January. “Now, I just want to keep performing and winning games for the team and to keep getting better and better.
“There's always something you can improve on. Once you get something right, there's always something new that you can work on. I just need to just do more and more, striving for perfection. You are never going to reach perfection but at least [try to] get there and thereabouts."
Rabada clearly enjoyed the promotion to taking the new ball – or the “hard, new rock” – as he put it, following the omission of Morne Morkel in Port Elizabeth.
“I would like to open,” he said in January but added: “It's a bit tough at the moment because there's two very good bowlers in those roles. I just like to bowl wherever the team requires me to and set my own aspirations aside.”