Kagiso Rabada: The 22-year-old Perfect Bowler
Kagiso Rabada is currently the No.1 ranked bowler in ODI cricket. His winning combination of pace, bounce, and sideways movement enabled him to leapfrog teammate Imran Tahir who dropped to No 2, making Rabada the youngest player to reach the top of the ODI bowling rankings since Saqlain Mushtaq in 1998.
Speaking to the ICC website, he said, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I’m surprised! I didn’t expect that at all. But nothing changes; you have to get into each game looking to do your best.”[/perfectpullquote]
He added, “I think we’ve been playing really good cricket, even though we haven’t been winning. We won our last one which will give us some confidence.”
Born in Johannesburg on 22 May 1995, the South African has always had a very strong support system. His mother, a lawyer by profession, always drove him to his cricket practices when he was younger and his father, a brain surgeon is always there at his games.
Rabada made his debut in December 2013 for Gauteng in the CSA Provincial One-Day Competition and in 2014, represented South Africa at the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup where he emerged best bowler after claiming 14 wickets in the tournament.
It earned him the “the fastest and most feared bowler in the competition”. The South African thereafter joined the Lions franchise and in February 2015, took a record 14 wickets for the Lions against Dolphins, his 14 for 105, achieving the best figures in the franchise era.
In February 2016, he signed a short-term deal to play county cricket for Kent County Cricket Club in England. He currently plays for the Delhi Daredevils team in the Indian Premier League.
On the international scene, Rabada made his debut for South Africa in 2014 and announced his arrival as an emerging talent on the world stage in 2015 by claiming a record six for 16, including a hat-trick in his one-day debut against Bangladesh.
Becoming the world’s best and fastest bowler
The young bowler’s rise to the top has been inevitable as evidenced by the 13 wickets he took in the hammering of England at Centurion in January last year, the second highest in a match for South Africa, accumulating 71 wickets at 23 from 17 Tests.
Some of his teammates have noticed Rabada’s potential of supreme reign. Faf Du Plessis said, “Rabada is quick, bowls in swingers and out swingers with the new and old ball, has a nasty bounce and can work through long spells. He is a perfect bowler for a captain.”
South Africa coach Russell Domingo, also awed by the 22-year-old’s bowling skills, could not hide his excitement saying, “He’s a fantastic bowler. He could be as good as Dale Steyn and those guys. It is hard to believe he already has 60 or 70 Test wickets.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“He has only been playing for a year or so. He’s a fantastic prospect for us, no doubt about it, and we’re expecting really good things from him on this particular tour.”[/perfectpullquote]
He added, “He has pace, a wonderful head on his shoulders, a great outlook on bowling and life, just very simplistic and calm. He has a fantastic action. You must take his shirt off to see why he doesn’t have too many injuries, unbelievable athlete.
“He is built unbelievably well for a fast bowler. We have to manage him, he plays all formats for us, so we have to be careful when and how we play him because he is a special cricketer.”
Amidst all the praise, Rabada always keeps his head down and says his main focus is to concentrate on getting wickets for his team and finding ways to make sure he doesn’t burn out.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”My role in the South Africa team is to try and get wickets, to field well and to try and score some runs down the order.[/perfectpullquote]
“I think I’ve been training nicely, doing what I need to do. I’m continuously finding that balance – how much to bowl, how much to rest and how much to train,” Rabada said.
Rabada has played Twenty20 cricket and hopes the recently launched T20 Global Destination League scheduled for later this year gets to have an impact as the IPL has had on Indian cricket – bringing financial stability to the game and broadening the local talent pool.
“A whole lot of people are in IPL because of the money. Not only the money though, but money is a massive thing. Hopefully it will be a similar thing in South Africa. Young players would have ambitions of playing in the league. Hopefully it kicks off and becomes a good one,” he added.
Featured photo: Getty Images