TELFORD VICE, Bulawayo
FIRST Kagiso Rabada collected six trophies at Cricket SA’s (CSA) awards function in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Then he spoke to reporters about his family, his friends, his coaches and the team he plays for – everyone but himself.
Perhaps Rabada’s fast bowler’s ego, like the rest of the 21-year-old, remains a work in progress. Which only boggles the mind. If he is this good after one season of international cricket, how much better will he be after five?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This will do for now. And how – Cricketer of the Year and all that other jazz after only six tests, 20 one-day internationals and 16 T20s is the stuff of legends in the making.
That said, one golden summer, no matter how golden, is only one golden summer. What comes next matters more.
“There’s going to be a lot more expectation, obviously,” Rabada said. “I’ll have to find a way to deal with it. It will be another challenge.
“You have to overcome fears, and not just on the cricket field. I can’t control whether I get wickets or not. I’ll just try and keep things simple, look after my preparation and try and live life a bit; not take it too seriously.”
And that was almost the extent of the words Rabada spent on himself, except to acknowledge that “I have worked quite hard”. Most of the rest of what he said was reserved for other people in his life.
“My family have been unbelievable. They’re the ones who’ve shaped me to be the person I am today. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am.
“All the coaches who’ve helped me – Gordon Parson and Jeff Toyana (both of the Lions) – there are so many. Without their contribution I wouldn’t have half the knowledge I have now.
“The culture is really good in the (SA) team. They’ve welcomed me really nicely and that’s allowed me to let loose. That’s very encouraging and you need it – it’s not all on you.
“Everyone has their time when they would like to achieve things individually. But it’s important, when you’re playing a team sport, that you put the team first.
“Everyone wants to play for SA. Why do you want to play for SA? Because you want to do it for you, but you want to do if for your country, too.
“So it’s a balance. You need to find the right balance but the team comes first.”
Future generations also had their place in Rabada’s warm, wide, welcoming embrace.
“When I was young the players I am blessed to play with now inspired me to do the things I am doing today. A lot of people have done great things and when they do that has the power to inspire a lot of people. I think whoever looks up to me might feel inspired.”
Many of those Rabada will inspire to follow in his footsteps will be black, a fact not lost on him.
“(It’s) just like our Protea motto, ‘To those before us, to those to come, today, tomorrow, we’ll play as one’. It’s a culture that we’re trying to enforce. It’s getting there, and it’s something we all want to do and buy into.
“It’s not only myself and Temba (Bavuma). It’s every single person in the SA cricket team.”
But there was a smidgen of Rabada himself left after all that.
“A lot of players who play for their country are true champions and they’re not scared of any battle. That’s where the test is – to see if you can be the best.”
So far, Rabada has passed that test with distinction.