Kagiso Rabada isn’t taking life too seriously, and that’s exactly how it should be at his age.
As I looked through the nominations for the Cricketer of the Year at the CSA Awards on Tuesday evening, it was obvious who was going to win it. I don’t think there’s ever been a more obvious candidate. Bar Quinton de Kock’s admirable resurgence of late, no one else came close. Rabada deserves all six of his awards, and he could’ve won the KFC So Good Award too.
In a way it epitomised the disappointing season the Proteas have had, but it also allowed their shining light to glow even brighter. At the end of the day, though, it’s just a youngster who’s trying to enjoy the life he leads foremost, and then just hope that his cricket goes well too.
My previous column touched on the overthinking that often lets the Proteas down – the meddling with the batting order, the lack of clarity regarding their roles, the apparent freedom that comes with performing in the IPL and CPL but not in international clothing. Rabada, though, is not one of them. When he bowls he hopes he bowls well, but if he doesn’t, then that’s just the way it is.
‘I don’t really have a structured plan,’ he told SACricketmag.com after the awards. ‘I know more or less what I’d like to do and improve on, but it’s just who I am. I feel like there’s more to life than just cricket. I’ve always been like this. Maybe its the way I’ve been brought up; It’s just the way I am.’
In fact, Rabada hasn’t even had the chance to think about what might or might not happen when he plays, and his stint in England helped a lot in that regard. The chaotic schedule over there saw him play eight games in the space of 22 days. If you dwell on a poor Natwest T20 Blast game one day, you’ll forget that you’re supposed to be playing a four-day game the next.
When interviewed by the masses on Tuesday evening, instead of just going through the motions and wading his way through the clichés, the 21-year-old, with over 20 phones and microphones shoved in his face, was forthright yet simple with his philosophy.
‘Right now there’s going to be more expectations obviously,’ he said. ‘I’ll have to find a way to deal with it. It’s not always about what happens on the cricket field. You have to overcome other things in your life and I see that as a challenge.
‘Hopefully the performances can come and I’lll be trying my best. I can’t control whether I take wickets or not. I’ll just keep things simple, live my life a bit and not take it too seriously,’ he concluded.
The Test series against New Zealand in August will be a clean slate on which the Proteas will work. The players would do well to take a leaf out of their youngest teammate’s book, and just enjoy their game and go out there and play. The results will take care of themselves.
I was hoping to catch three-time award winner on the night Wiaan Mulder for an interview after Rabada’s, but then I remembered he’s 18 and probably already at home, hoping to get some rest before school. Life goes on, and one forgets how young these guys are.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi