Kagiso Rabada must be wrapped in cotton wool and protected from bowling too much.
This is the warning from Mfuneko Ngam, better known to his fans as The Black Mamba.
The former Protea fast bowler was full of praise for South Africa’s newest cricket hero, but warned Rabada should be nurtured.
Rabada broke all sorts of records when he took 13/144 against England at Centurion during the fourth test.
Just like Rabada, Ngam hit the cricket scene like a meteor in 2000 when he bowled at around 150km/h. Ngam took 11 wickets (at an average of 17.18, with a best-innings analysis of 6/62) in his first three tests before a series of injuries wrecked his career.
“I bowled way too much at a young age and my body could just not handle it,” said Ngam (37).
“I exercised until I could not move any more ... and then I would play a match.”
But he did not see the same problems facing Rabada.
“These days the workload of players, particularly fast bowlers, is managed scientifically. And Kagiso is more mature, stronger and fitter than I was then,” he said.
“But he must know when to apply the brakes. He is someone who can become a superstar in all three formats [test, one-day and T20 cricket].”
These days, Ngam heads Cricket SA’s academy at the University of Fort Hare.
While Rabada’s feat at Centurion brought bittersweet memories, Ngam said he was very happy for the player.
“He and Temba [Bavuma] are
the success stories of CSA’s transformation programme.
“They pave the way for other young black players to rise through the ranks and, believe me, soon we will have many more Rabadas and Bavumas coming through.”