Mark Keohane, writing for IOL Sport
Kagiso Rabada has a love affair with Pakistan – and indeed batsmen on the sub-continent.
Rabada spearheaded South Africa’s under 19 cricketers to a historic first-ever ODI World Cup win in 2014.
Now, seven years later in the first Proteas Test played in Karachi, Pakistan in 14 years, Rabada created some more history in reaching 200 Test wickets and becoming the first bowler in Test history to dismiss a batsman from the sub-continent for his 1st, 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th Test wickets respectively.
Rabada was always destined for greatness from the moment he took Indian superstar Virat Kohli’s wicket to start his Test career count. Kohli is regarded as the most complete batsman of the past decade.
Kausthub Gudipati is to thank for awareness around Rabada’s success against batsmen from the sub-continent. Gudipati, who describes himself as a social media presence who finds obscure and interesting cricket stats, produced the one showing Rabada’s sub-continent driven milestones.
Kohli was the first, Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne was the 50th, Bangladesh’s Mahmudullah the 10th, Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perea the 150th and Pakistan’s Hasan Ali the 200th.
Rabada took 8154 balls, which equates to 1359 overs bowled, to reach the milestone and only Pakistan’s Waqar Younis (7730) and iconic South African fast bowler Dale Steyn (7848) have got to 200 Test wickets quicker. Another South African fast-bowling legend, Allan Donald, played a few less Tests than Rabada to get to 200 but he bowled more deliveries.
Rabada’s statistics have already ensured his place among the sport’s elite bowlers. In just 44 Tests, he has taken nine five-wicket hauls and four 10-wicket hauls. Only Younis (19) and Steyn (13), had taken more five wicket hauls at that stage of their respective Test careers.
The significance of Rabada’s Test career is that he was born after South Africa’s first democratic elections.
Rabada is a brilliant fast bowler who has turned his potential into consistent performance.
He is the leader of a fast-bowling pack that pre 1994 would never have been able to play Test cricket. We must never lose significance of this because it is always a reminder of how many cricketers in this country were denied national and global opportunity and recognition.
Rabada is a product of equal opportunity. He was schooled at the plush St Stithians in Gauteng and, according to his school coaches, his sporting pedigree was obvious.
I have always argued that transformation in South African sport is about opportunity and not restricted to as simple a notion as a player being black and being given an opportunity at the expense of a white player.
Transformation is about ensuring the black player gets as good a crack at making it as his white counterpart has been given for over 100 years.
Rabada is the result of such an opportunity because he was born in South Africa in an era that allowed for this opportunity. Just imagine the world had never got to see his talent? If you can imagine that, then you can grasp the sorrow and anger of those who remember so many black cricketers pre a democratic South Africa who never got to play on a world stage that Rabada often has made his own.
Rabada’s achievements since his international debut in 2014 have been immense. Having made his Test debut in 2015, it took just three years for him to be ranked the world’s best ODI and Test bowler. He was just 22 years-old.
In 2016 Rabada became the first player to win six awards at Cricket South Africa’s annual prize-giving, including the Test and ODI Cricketer of the Year and the Cricketer of the Year. Wisden, cricket’s accepted authority and the game’s bible, named Rabada the best young player in the world in 2018.
In Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday, 28th January, he once again showed why.
Take a bow KG. T
Take a bow for a moment that transcends your sport in the context of your country of birth.