It took Kagiso Rabada only two years and 65 days from his Test debut to become the number-one bowler in the world. (He’s currently sitting on second spot.) Along the way, he’s had a steep learning curve — not least off the field. These days, the 23-year-old has to contend not only with stubborn opposition batsmen, but also with a whole new world of fashion shoots and brand sponsorships.
In April, Rabada was named a Tag Heuer ambassador — a fitting partnership, given the watch brand’s tagline: #dontcrackunderpressure. “You need to stay on top of your game in pressure situations: put yourself under pressure to perform better,” Rabada says. “Tag Heuer is putting itself under pressure to make better watches and better technology — just like any sportsman would.”
Rabada owns a fair number of Tag Heuer watches, but today he’s sporting his favourite, which he wears every day: the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph. “It’s a nice-looking watch,” he says. “I’m not a technical fundi, but I think it looks very stylish. You can see it’s the real McCoy.”
When it comes to style, Rabada favours a casual, everyday look: a shirt, good jeans, sneakers. Adidas, naturally, since the sportswear brand is another one of his sponsors. But he’s also enjoying the chance to dress more formally when the occasion requires. “I love to wear my suits. Nowadays, I get the opportunity to wear them more,” he says. “I find I’m starting to have a collection of suits.”
I just like good materials; a good fit. And I think this looks good on me, instead of trying too hard
Rabada’s lanky 1.91m frame does mean he needs his formal clothing specially tailored. The length of his legs isn’t a problem, but his long arms need to be accommodated. “When I get shirts and suit jackets, they have to be tailored all the time in my arms. If I get a large, it will sit perfectly on my shoulders, but short on my arms,” he says. “I don’t like the fit too tight anyway. So extra large gives me the extra arm length, and a bit more room.”
But, for the most part, Rabada likes to keep it simple in terms of style: his heroes are fellow sportspeople, not fashionistas. “I think I just see bits and pieces of how people dress. I see what I like, and I incorporate it into my way of dressing,” he says. “I don’t have too much flair. I just like good materials; a good fit. And I think this looks good on me, instead of trying too hard.”
Favourite fragrance? Tom Ford has taken over my bathroom cabinet.
Any style advice? I enjoy keeping it simple: maybe with a touch of flair, nothing more.
The first item of clothing you loved? When I was five or six, I had these camo pants: I wanted to wear them every day.
The last item of clothing you bought? This Kisua top. I love how African it is: it’s different to day-to-day clothing.
Your favourite cricket kit? I enjoy the South African T20 kit. I love the colours: it’s a bright gold and a winter green.
A book you’ve enjoyed? The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.
Your favourite cricket destination? I enjoy playing in the Caribbean: it’s like a cricket-slash-holiday.
Your favourite holiday destination? If I need to relax, I go to an island; if I want to clear my mind, I go to the bush.