It’s a known fact that aggression and fast bowling have been friends since the advent of time.
Be it the famous Caribbean quartet of Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Malcolm Marshall, and Sir Andy Roberts in the 70s and 80s to Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose in the 90s.
The Australian greats Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in the 70s and 80s to the modern-day trio of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie.
How can we forget the sultans of swing Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis?
Kapil Dev, Madan Lal, Javagal Srinath, and more for the men in blue.
While we are talking about aggressive fast bowling, a natural mention of the Proteas is a must with their own barrage of aggressive speedsters.
The likes of Allan Donald, Brett Shultz, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Dale Steyn, and Morne Morkel to name a few in the post isolation period.
In the hustle-bustle of contemporary cricket, when we think aggression, a name that immediately springs to mind is Kagiso Kagiso Rabada.
The enigmatic leader of the Proteas attack.
Born in Johannesburg in 1995, at 6 feet 1, Kagiso Rabada was a by-product of a maternal lawyer and a paternal doctor, but cricket is what excited him.
You know to some people, this great sport just comes so naturally, the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Ben Stokes, Rohit Sharma to name a few. It almost seems like they are born for greatness. Well, an addition to this breed is KG Rabada.
Grit, resilience, and the determination to conquer all adversity are some of the values we associate with this gentleman.
Having only played one year of first-class matches, KG immediately got a taste of international cricket at the u19 World Cup in 2014 which South Africa won under the able guidance of his contemporary Aiden Markram.
Rabada ended up being the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 wickets at an economy rate of just 3.1.
This was just the start of a flourishing career that saw an ODI debut against Bangladesh in July 2015, achieving the best debut figures of 6 for 16.
Need I add he was only the second bowler in history to take a hat-trick on ODI debut. The first was Taijul Islam of Bangladesh.
How could his test exploits be any different, in just his 7th test he took 13 wickets to give the Proteas a much-needed victory over the English in an inbound tour in 2015-16 which had horribly gone south.
In the process he became the youngest Protea to take 10 wickets in a test match at only 20.
How can one not mention his performances against the mighty Australians when speaking about his on-field achievements:
His fifer in the second innings against Australia at WACA in 2016 was an absolute delight that helped the Proteas win the test and eventually the series 2-1.
His captain at the time, Faf du Plessis generally a non-expressive figure on the field was so excited with this youngster’s wickets in the game, that he ended up giving KG a peck on his forehead.
The PE test against Australia in 2018 was also magic for this speedster when he took 11 wickets to help South Africa level the series, after losing the first test in Durban. The Proteas ended on top winning 3-1.
In just a little over 5 years of international cricket, KG has already taken 343 wickets across all formats and the better part of his playing career is still ahead of him.
The cherry on the cake was the dual feat of him being awarded the ICC top ODI bowler in 2017 after a successful summer against the English and ICC top Test bowler in 2018 after his 11-wicket haul in PE against the Aussies.
His accolades have not only been restricted to his on-field exploits with him winning hearts off the field too:
- In July 2016, Rabada became the first cricketer to win six awards at Cricket South Africa’s annual dinner, including the prize for Cricketer of the Year.
- He achieved the same feat again in June 2018.
- In August 2018, Wisden named him the best young player in the world
Wow, how can someone not be impressed with this ensemble of accolades at the tender age of just 25?
This is a testament to his hard work and determination to make impossible just a word in the dictionary.
As the future beckons, one can surely hope to see more pace, more aggression, more lethal bouncers, and definitely more toe-crushing yorkers to be bestowed upon all batters in the world.
A path to resurrect the dwindling fortunes of the Proteas in world cricket.
Here’s saluting Kagiso Rabada for being the pride of South Africa and wish him a very happy silver birth anniversary.
P.S. – Do you guys know another facet of Kagiso Rabada? The man is also a budding pianist.