He’s packed an amazing amount of success into that short time, and already the expectations are enormous every time he has a ball in his hands.
Rabada picked up six awards at Cricket SA’s trophy ceremony on Saturday night, the second time he’s achieved that feat. It’s in recognition of the excellence he’s displayed over the last year in which he quickly became one of the leaders of South Africa’s attack.
He performed brilliantly in Test series successes against India and Australia. In the latter, in particular, he was devastating at crucial times in what turned into an historic series triumph.
Rabada’s year was not without controversy and he learned some harsh lessons about on-field discipline following that now infamous “shoulder brush” with former Australian captain Steve Smith.
Who knows how that series with the Australians would have turned out had Rabada’s two-game ban stood.
Ultimately, of course, thanks to ace attorney Dali Mpofu, the ban was overturned - much to the chagrin of Smith and the Australians - but nevertheless that period was one from which Rabada made some important growth. For one, his celebrations will take place much further away from future victims.
Professional sportsmen are loath to look back too much, but Saturday night offered him and South African fans the opportunity to reflect on what a fine fast bowler he is. Many will now look ahead as Rabada and the Proteas firmly set their sights on the next major goal for South African cricket - a World Cup title.
The next tournament is less than a year away and Rabada, who won the under-19 World Cup in 2014, will be a crucial element in South Africa’s planning for that event. Already he’s achieved much, but Rabada is smart enough to know that there is so much he and South African cricket still need to achieve.