Cape Town - In
an exclusive interview, Proteas fast bowler KAGISO RABADA talks about maturing into his role as South Africa’s
premier paceman, embracing UK conditions and his passion for music.
Sport24 asked: You made your Test
debut in 2015. How would you describe the ride?
Kagiso Rabada: It was great breaking
into the national team, and earning my first Test cap against India was a proud
moment. It’s been cool to experience what it’s like to be a Protea because I
have always wanted to be here. I thoroughly enjoy playing
for South Africa across all three formats because it tests different areas of
my skill-set and assists my development. The 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World
Cup was a springboard for me, and all eyes were on us because we ended up
winning the tournament. I played well in the semi-final (Rabada took 6/25
against Australia and announced himself to the cricket community in some style)
and everyone made a big deal about it and then people started watching me. We
received the recognition, but I also backed it up with my performances at
franchise level. And with the matches I have played for the Proteas, I haven’t done
too badly. The main factor is that I have been afforded opportunities. It’s cool
that I came into an environment that can prove a catalyst to good performances.
It has taken a lot for me to get to this point of my career, so all in all I
can say that I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out. It hasn’t
been all ups on my journey to reach the summit – there have been downs as well - but my life has changed for the better. I have seen many new countries on my sporting
travels, and it’s fair to say that after breaking into the Proteas team, I have
been in explore mode ever since.
Sport24 asked: What is the biggest
lesson you’ve learnt in your burgeoning career?
Kagiso Rabada: In my first season of
international cricket, I really just rocked up and bowled, whereas the second
and third seasons are the ones in which I have learnt the most. Cricket is a
game of fine margins and I have had to make peace with many things. I’ve learnt
that it’s the small details that will separate you from the rest. It’s not
really your skill that is the point of difference because you already possess
your skill. It’s about doing the right things at the right time and that’s a
really fine line. You can’t control what the batsmen are going to do, but you
can only control where you are going to bowl the ball. You can also control
what your mindset will be like and how you are feeling on the day. It’s about
having a clear mind and knowing how you are going to remove self-doubt. From my
experience, it comes down to devising different strategies because international
batsmen are really sure of themselves and it’s tough to get them out. I have
found that you need to think outside the box and also be aggressive as a fast
bowler. While I generally let my bowling do the talking, I never shy away from
a challenge and I will always try to assert my authority. Furthermore, from an
individual point of view, I hope to keep learning new skills and getting
smarter in terms of managing myself. My body is fine, however, it’s always important
to conserve your energy because you need to have that extra zip when bowling to
the best batsmen in the world.
Sport24 asked: How do you keep your
feet on the ground with fame and fortune?
Kagiso Rabada: It’s honestly not very
difficult for me to remain grounded owing to the type of person I am. I don’t
believe in making a scene out of things and still like living a normal life and
doing things that others my age would do. My approach to life is pretty simple:
When you need to have a party, party and when you need to relax, relax. I
assess the situation and see what I need to do because everyone is vulnerable
and no one is invincible. My parents have played a huge role in my development
and some of the people I have met since my career started, whom I have put my
trust in, have helped me along the road. (In terms of being spoken of as a
future Proteas captain in some circles) right now I’m focusing exclusively on
my playing role at both domestic and international level. However, if people
entrust me with leadership and captaincy in the future, then I will take it
with both hands.
Sport24 asked: How do you enjoy
touring the UK and what’s your favourite stop?
Kagiso Rabada: It’s nice experiencing
the English crowds and culture. I also enjoyed playing county cricket for Kent
last year. To be honest, I thought that I would learn more from my short
playing stint in the UK, but I don’t regret the decision to play county cricket
and forgo the IPL last season. During my time with Kent, the wickets were very
flat and I guess I learnt to bowl on wickets which are low and have no pace.
Those pitches sit up which is not ideal for a fast bowler, but it provided a
good challenge. England has strong cricketing tradition, but the West Indies is
my favourite travel destination. It’s a peaceful and relaxing place to visit.
It was cool touring the Caribbean with the Proteas because it boasts a good
cricketing history. As a quick, I identify with legendary ex-fast bowlers like Curtly
Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, who were part of a golden generation for West
Indies cricket. I love travelling, but when I am away from home, I miss South
Africa and its diverse cultures.
Sport24 asked: How would you describe
your music taste and sense of style?
Kagiso Rabada: My music taste is diverse
and what I listen to depends on my mood. Being in my youth (Rabada is 22) you
will find that hip hop features heavily on my playlist. However, I’m also into
house music, drum and bass as well as some mellow jazz. I feel that there is no
substitute for good music. I am also known to occasionally spit some rhymes,
but rapping is more of a joke for me and it’s not something that I take too
seriously. When it comes to my individual fashion sense, simple but stylish
clothing is the order of the day because I’m not someone who is flashy or
extravagant. Style and comfort is always a winning combination.
Previous Q&A chats:
Neil de Kock
Bakkies BothaRohan Janse van Rensburg