A strapping, genuine quick who regularly bowls in the 140-150kph range, Kagiso Rabada is the most exciting talent to emerge from South Africa in the post No.1 Test ranking era. Before he had turned 21, Rabada had already established himself as a potential leader of the attack.
Rabada thrust himself into the international spotlight at the 2014 U19 World Cup, where he took 6 for 25 against Australia in the semi-final. South Africa went on to win the title – their first – and Rabada finished as their highest wicket-taker.
Three months later, he was awarded a franchise contract with Lions and before the year was up, he had been included in the national ODI and Test squads. He made his T20I debut against Australia in Adelaide in November 2014.
In early 2015, Rabada showed his ability in the longer format. He claimed the South African record for the best bowling figures in a first-class match, 14 for 105, surpassing the haul taken by Dale Steyn seven seasons before. He finished the season as the third-highest wicket-taker in the Sunfoil Series.
He was included in all three squads to tour Bangladesh in July-August 2015, and became only the second player to take a hat-trick on ODI debut, eventually finishing with the best figures by a first-timer: 6 for 16.
Rabada also played in a home series against New Zealand and was then included on a tour to India. There, he led the ODI wicket-takers’ list with Steyn after both claimed 10 wickets. Injuries to Morne Morkel, then Steyn and Vernon Philander, meant Rabada got a chance to play in three of the four Tests of that series. On inhospitable pitches, he worked hard, often without reward but displayed the stamina required of a Test bowler.
Rabada has had more assistance from the surfaces at home, where he played against England in the absence of Steyn and Philander. In the final Test, with South Africa having already lost the series, Rabada became the youngest South African to take 10 wickets in a match when he finished with 13 for 144.
His workload did not lessen as he played a further four ODIs and two T20Is against England, three T20Is against Australia, and also led the attack at the 2016 World T20 in India. After his performances, Rabada seemed primed for an IPL stint but chose to sign a county deal with Kent for a month instead.