IND vs SA: Kagiso Rabada is nothing short of an inspiration in South Africa

Updated: Jan 22, 2018, 11:16 IST | Anand Vasu

Rabada is a symbol of hope and role model to his people, according to his father

Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada

Ahead of the final Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, Kagiso Rabada, nicknamed KG, turns up for a sponsor event, the launch of the pink one-day international that will be played at the same venue on February 10 to raise awareness for breast cancer patients. He is constantly ribbed by everyone for perhaps being a touch worse for wear, having celebrated the series win long into the previous night.

"I was awake because my little ones kept me up," said AB de Villiers. "I'm not sure about KG and his celebrations." The room could laugh lightly because Rabada is not the kind of young man to be irresponsible and party so hard that it affects his cricket. Rabada is the exact opposite of the stereotype associated with black cricketers in South Africa.

KG was born into a wealthy family, his father is a successful neurologist and his mother a sought after lawyer. Rabada grew up in Houghton, the tony Johannesburg suburb where Nelson Mandela lived his final years. Rabada went to St Stithians Boys, an upmarket school.

But, through it all, Rabada senior would take his little boy back to the townships, such as Soweto. "I wanted him to understand that though this is not where he came from, these are the people he represents," Dr Mpho Rabada, who came from the Mamelodi township near Pretoria the hard way, told mid-day. "If you have to compare him with the white kids or any other kid in other parts of the world, he can't necessarily say he was disadvantaged, because he wasn't. That's the argument that holds water with me, having grown in the township. For him, it doesn't. He always had everything."

Rabada senior is well aware that his son is more than just a highly skilled and successful fast bowler, but a symbol of hope and role model to first black, and then all South Africans. "It can only be a good thing, I think he loves cricket," he said. "He goes out there not to prove A or B, he goes there to do well. And in the moment of doing well, he is inspiring other people."

One such person inspired by Rabada is Luingi Ngidi, the young man who delivered the knockout blow to India in the second Test. Ngidi, whose parents were both domestic workers, comes from Kloof, a Durban suburb, and, unlike Rabada he had nothing to fall back on. Why, when he was young, Ngidi wanted to be a batsman, but because he did not have kit, he turned to bowling instead. Now, he bowls alongside his hero for South Africa. You couldn't find a better advertisement for transformation and quotas than this.

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