/ 30 December 2023

Golden boy Rabada is blazing his way through Test history

Losers: Kagiso Rabada continues to be relied upon.
Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada

You know that I have recently been so fixated on how good bowlers like Mohammed Shami, Nandre Burger and Mitchell Starc are, that I have overlooked a guy who is quietly blazing his way through Test history.

I am referring to Kagiso Rabada, who took another five-for on Tuesday (his 14th overall) and in doing so, became the fastest wicket-taker in the history of Test cricket.

Yep, I’m not exaggerating, KG Rabada has the greatest strike rate of all Test bowlers in cricket history — better than Malcolm Marshall, Waqar Yunis, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitheran, Dennis Lillee, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram, Glen McGrath, Dale Steyn — the whole damn toot.

KG is literally taking wickets at a rate never seen before — a scalp every five-and-a-half overs. And you probably guessed it, he is the most destructive “home bowler” in cricket history.

To put this into perspective, he is almost an over better than Waqar Yunis (who is in second place) on home turf. Now people are starting to ask why this guy is so good. Analysts say that all three of the other closest greats (Marshall, Yunis and Steyn) were skiddy bowlers who attacked the stumps and this was mainly because they weren’t very tall.

Rabada, on the other hand, gets the skiddy results but also benefits from being a tall man. None of the other guys were able to consistently get dangerous bounce, back of a length — something Rabada is able to do exclusively, and this is what makes him great.

So who is KG Rabada? Interestingly the 28-year-old may be so prolific because he has a good head on his shoulders. His dad, Mpho, is a doctor and mom, Florence, a lawyer, who works in asset management. His dad is also an accomplished musician, which may be a source for the rhythm KG achieves.

KG speaks three home languages — Sesotho, Sepedi and Setswana — and his family originally hails from the Mamelodi township outside Pretoria. He spent much of his infancy living with his granny (who interestingly loved watching cricket). He attended school at St Stithians in Johannesburg and was originally coached by SA wicketkeeper Ray Jennings.

But the soft-spoken Rabada has always been amazing. He has a hat-trick in all three formats of cricket, including one on ODI debut. After making his provincial debut aged 18 for Gauteng in 2013, he got his national call-up a year later.

In 2016 he became the first cricketer to win six awards at Cricket South Africa’s annual awards, including the prize for Cricketer of the Year, a feat he repeated in 2018. By January 2018 aged just 22, he topped both the ICC ODI and Test rankings and was duly named Best Young Player in the World by Wisden.

In the 2020 Indian Premier League, he become the highest wicket taker of the season by picking up 30 wickets for Delhi Capitals in 17 matches. In April 2023 he moved to Punjab Kings and registered his 100th IPL wicket in his 64th match, becoming the fastest bowler to achieve this milestone. What can we say, this kid is golden.

I was on YouTube this week and picked up some information about legendary South African golfer Sewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum, which I thought would be nice to share with readers. For the record there has been a lot written about Papwa in recent times and the more you research the more interesting his story seems to become.

Papwa was born of a blind mother and peasant father in a shack on the shores of the Umgeni in December 1928. He was so poor that he didn’t go to school and had to fend for his family as a caddy from the age of 13, after the death of his father.

The golfer, however, shot to fame when he won the Dutch Open out of nowhere in 1959. The interesting thing was that this was only the second tournament he had ever played against white players. In doing so he also became the first golfer to win a national title with a reverse grip and was also probably the first player of colour to win an international title.

He then won two Dutch Opens (1960 and 1963). These results put pressure on the apartheid government to allow him to play in the Natal Open in 1963, which he won. He, however, was not allowed to enter Durban Country Club or use the changerooms or toilets due to the colour of his skin. Controversy erupted when he received his trophy outside in the rain.

This had bigger repercussions. The Indian government got wind of this and were not happy. It ultimately spurred them on to campaign for South Africa’s banning from the 1964 Olympics — which happened.
Eventually apartheid hit back at Papwa.

While the SA PGA were forced to accept players of colour based on international requirements, apartheid prevented these players from practising on their courses — and this killed Papwa’s career. – The Witness