Man of the Match, but Rabada's celebrations come at a high price for the South African team
Second Sunfoil Test
Australia 243 and 239
South Africa 382 and 102/4
Result: South Africa win by 6 wickets
Man of the Match: Kagiso Rabada
Series: Four-match series tied 1-1
KAGISO Rabada was consigned to his fate even before the ICC slapped him with a two-match ban yesterday, which has effectively brought the curtain down on his participation in this epic tussle with Australia, but he has maintained his innocence.
Speaking to media after just completing an Aussie demolition job that brought him 11 wickets and the Man of the Match award in the second Test, Rabada knew he was unlikely to escape the charge of “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player” levelled against him after his shirt brushed Australian captain Steve Smith’s shoulder in the first innings here at St George’s Park.
According to the ICC’s rules, the 22-year-old was fined 50 percent of his match fee and issued with three demerit points by match referee Jeff Crowe. This took Rabada up to eight points within the last 24 months. The ruling therefore activates a two-Test ban, meaning Rabada will play no part in the forthcoming Newlands and Wanderers showdowns. South Africa have 48 hours to appeal the verdict.
“Yeah it’s bitter sweet,” Rabada said after claiming his fourth 10th wicket haul of his career. “Especially coming off a performance like that, I felt really good in this Test match. I let the team down. It’s going to have to stop.
“I can’t keep doing this because I am letting the team down and I am letting myself down. I would have loved to be playing in the next game.”
Although Crowe believes Rabada’s actions was “inappropriate and deliberate” and that he “had the opportunity to avoid the contact”, the fast bowler is adamant that he was not trying to shoulder charge the Australian skipper.
“I won’t change the way I express myself, I will just stay as far away from the batter,” Rabada stressed. “There’s a lot of grey areas as well, but the rules are the rules. The reason why we went to a hearing was because we believe that there’s not a lot of inconsistency.
“If I knew I had done it deliberately, then I would not have gone to contest. But honestly I never even felt contact in that moment, because I was so pumped up. I never felt contact at all. It’s going to need to stop, because I’m letting the team down. I’m also letting myself down.”
Rabada’s captain Faf du Plessis certainly doesn’t want his spearhead to change his spots, but does believe he may “have to get a bit smarter”.
“For me the way KG plays the game, he is a competitive fast bowler. He works bloody hard. He runs in and bowls quick for a long periods of time. So, when he gets big wickets that’s a celebration, that’s energy, that’s passion. For me its pure passion!
“Obviously these days the attention has focused on what is allowed, what is not allowed, I just think that has changed so much over a year or two. KG will probably have to get a bit smarter when he celebrates a wicket. I don’t think he does anything wrong,” Du Plessis said.
Du Plessis is also befuddled by the manner the ICC are implementing the rules. During the recently-concluded India series, the visiting captain Virat Kohli was seen after virtually every wicket giving South African players “send-offs” but no action was taken.
“Everyone just wants consistency. One match referee interprets it one way and the other in another way,” Du Plessis said.
“People talk about where Test cricket is going. For me, the small battles are important. It’s about KG running in for 15 overs trying to get someone out and when he does, he has to show some sort of passion. Otherwise you can just put a bowling machine out there and a robot to bat.”
Rabada, meanwhile, had a further disciplinary charge hanging over his head yesterday with another demerit point issued to him for his celebration upon dismissing David Warner on Sunday.