We chatted to lightning quick SA U19 bowler Kagiso Rabada after the side’s World Cup triumph. By GARETH STEVENS
How did you start playing cricket and was it always your first-choice sport?
As a youngster I played lots of sports, but rugby was definitely my favourite. It was actually my rugby coach who encouraged me to try cricket. I picked it up in Grade 3 and immediately realised I had talent. In Grade 9 I sacrificed rugby in order to further my cricket career. It was the better choice because I suffer from scoliosis, which is basically a wavy spine. I manage my condition with gym work and stretching, so hopefully it won’t affect my career down the line.
How did you find out about your selection for the U19 World Cup squad?
We were told at the awards dinner after Cubs Week. I was really excited to be a part of the squad because I knew we had a great chance of winning in the UAE.
What were your expectations going into the U19 World Cup?
I wanted to be the best bowler at the tournament, but unfortunately missed being the top wicket-taker by one wicket. Winning the World Cup obviously made up for that minor disappointment, though.
How did the South African public react to the team’s victory?
Everybody has been very welcoming and the crowd at Newlands was really excited when we paraded the trophy at the ground, but I don’t think people actually understand the significance of it. We are the first South African team to win the World Cup and that hasn’t even sunk in for the players yet.
Your coach has said you are like a young West Indian coming through the South African cricket ranks. Have you seen any footage of the great West Indian bowlers of the 1980s and do you agree with the statement?
I hear that quite a lot and it’s clearly evident if you compare us, especially with my relaxed, almost West Indian nature. But there is one major difference: I have the South African spirit of being ruthless and never backing down.
What are your plans for the immediate future?
I plan on getting some credits through Unisa this year. Next year, I hope to study law at UJ. I’ve been playing for the Lions, and I’m excited at the prospect of touring with the SA A side. It will be a major step up for me.
What are your long-term goals in the sport?
I want to play for the Proteas and it’s my dream to become the best bowler in the world.
At just 18, you were clocking speeds of 140kph. Do you think you can get even quicker as you mature?
Yes, I think so. The wickets in SA will help a lot in this regard. I’m also planning to work on my action and hopefully a combination of these factors will help me get quicker with age.
This feature is courtesy TFG SportsClub magazine, published by Highbury Safika Media.
Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images/Gallo Images