Kagiso Rabada’s recent phenomenal ascent to the summit of the ICC ODI bowling rankings may have surprised some, but not Proteas legend Makhaya Ntini.
Ntini has been following Rabada’s progress for years and the 22-yearold’s development and maturity have highly impressed the game’s elder statesman.
“A few years ago we started hearing stories that there was a talented‚ young and quick bowler at the Lions‚” Ntini said.
“As time went by he started getting game time at franchise level.
“The early signs were there for everyone to see.
“I am happy that he is fulfilling his undoubted potential and he has managed to reach the top of the ODI rankings.
“It feels good to see another black South African bowler doing well at that level.
“The most important thing for him now is to stay there for a sustained period of time,” Ntini said.
“He must play consistently in the coming months like he has been doing recently. He took his opportunity in the absence of Dale Steyn and he is going to be an important player for us during the Champions Trophy.
“We have AB de Villiers as the No 1ranked batsman in the format‚ Rabada as No 1-ranked bowler and the other players must complement them.”
Someone else who never doubted Rabada’s prodigious talent is Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana.
“I am not surprised he has managed to achieve something this special‚” Toyana said. “The only thing I did not expect is how soon he has done it.
“He is a special player who has a bright future in the game and, hopefully, he stays grounded and injury-free.
“I have known him since he was about 15 or 16, during my days with the U19s, and we knew he was a natural talent and one for the future.
“He is representing the country very well and I am sure he is going to be important for us in the Champions Trophy‚” Toyana said. Rabada is the youngest bowler to be ranked No 1 since Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq in 1998. He has overtaken national teammate Imran Tahir‚ who has dropped to second place.
The Champions Trophy gets under way today with hosts England playing Bangladesh at the Oval.