Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada became the first player to scoop six awards at CSA’s annual dinner, including the coveted South African cricketer of the year prize, surpassing AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, who had previously won five each. Not only is Rabada the only player to notch up that many awards, but he is also the youngest to win the main prize. The only major award Rabada did not win was the T20 cricketer of the year, which went to legspinner Imran Tahir.
In his first full international season, the 2015-16 summer, which was a largely underwhelming period for South Africa’s men’s team, Rabada racked up the second-best match figures by a South African in Test and ODI cricket. His 13 for 144 against England at Centurion in January has only been bettered by Makhaya Ntini, who took 13 for 132 in Port of Spain in 2005, while Rabada’s 6 for 16 on ODI debut against Bangladesh in July last year, a performance which also included a hat-trick, was only surpassed by Imran Tahir, who took 7 for 45 against West Indies in June 2015.
That Rabada managed all of this in a time when South Africa were also without two of their experienced seamers – Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander were both injured for large parts of the previous summer – only added to Rabada’s achievement. “With injuries to our main fast bowlers during this past year, he has had to step up and lead the attack. How brilliantly has he done that,” Haroon Lorgat, CSA CEO said.
Rabada’s performance also earned the players’ and fans choice awards. He shared speckles of the limelight with Tahir, whose 16 T20 wickets this year put him on top of the South African pile in the format, and batsman Stephen Cook. Despite only playing one international in the 2015-16 season, a Test against England, Cook won the international newcomer of the year award for his century on debut in the only Test South Africa won in the season.
“This may not have been the best year for the Proteas in a team sense but there have been some great individual performances, especially from newcomers to the side,” Lograt said. “Temba Bavuma and Stephen Cook, who are other award winners this evening plus Quinton de Kock have all recorded their maiden Test centuries.”
Bavuma won a sponsor award for his performance but de Kock went empty-handed, despite being the leading run-scorer in the domestic twenty-over competition. Albie Morkel, who led Titans to victory in that competition, was named T20 player of the year. Titans also had two other winners. Heino Kuhn, who became the sixth South African to score more than 1,000 runs in a first-class season, won the first-class award and outgoing coach Rob Walter, who will take over at Otago Volts, from September, was named coach of the year.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent