Kagiso Rabada has played two T20I for South Africa so far © Getty Images
Kagiso Rabada has played two T20I for South Africa so far © Getty Images

Kagiso Rabada, the 19-year-old pace sensation from Johannesburg, has been named in South Africa’s Test side for the West Indies series. Rabada impressed during this year’s ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and was tipped as one for the future. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the young man and his prospects.

Kagiso Rabada first made headlines when he rattled Australia during the ICC under-19 World Cup 2014 semi-final in Dubai. Batsmen who have been brought up on pace, were stunned by this young pace bowler who got the ball to talk. The youngster was far too quick for his age-group. He bowled on a length, maintained his channel and zipped it through with pace. Result: six for 25 and a passage through to the final. The world had started speaking of this youngster as a Proteas prospect. Later the same year, he has not only made his T20 International debut but has also been named in the Test squad to take on the West Indies.

Looking at Rabada from afar, one sees a tall, well-built figure. Approach him for a chat, and you come across this gentle giant, with a baby face. Rabada’s father had travelled with him to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and had supported him through South Africa’s under-19 World Cup victory. He is calm, measured and speaks to the point. You can also sense a bit of quiet confidence, despite his politeness. Back then, Rabada had only impressed at the under-19 level and was yet to break into South Africa’s franchise cricket — which is a tough task for a youngster despite success in age-groups. Only 11 days later, he made his First-Class debut.

Rabada doesn’t rush into the crease and has a very easy run-up. There is rhythm, but he doesn’t work his pace with a bustling run to the crease. Instead, he puts in all his effort at the point of delivery and unleashes those thunderbolts. Speaking to this writer in Dubai earlier this year, Rabada said, “I think everything happens at the crease. Obviously, you have to have a stable run-up. I think what I doing at the crease is the right thing in terms of leg-drive and shoulder-drive. I think that is where I am most powerful.”

So far, he has taken 25 wickets in seven First-Class games with an average of 24.84. Rabada’s figures are decent and one can say that his selection is more on promise than on performance. South Africa would do well to groom this youngster as he certainly is one for the future. As he gets older, he can only get stronger and faster. If he can bowl at a good pace at the age of 19, he could develop into a tearaway in his early 20s. Breaking into the playing XI may not be a very easy task considering the stalwarts Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander’s presence. Plus, Kyle Abbott is waiting in the wings. But, Rabada will get vital dressing room experience and will learn in the presence of South Africa’s famed pace attack.

Growing up in Johannesburg, Rabada initially began with playing rugby, but turned to cricket in later years. Watching Allan Donald inspired him to bowl fast. He said, “I just watched Allan Donald bowl a ball and I saw he is quick. So, I went to bowl my first ball and actually threw it. I started off throwing, but eventually got my arm working. So I think Allan Donald deserves a lot of credit for that.” And, his latest hero is Steyn. The youngster will get to share the dressing room with both the greats of South African fast bowling.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)