From delivering a man of the match that helped South Africa go on level in the 4-match Test series to getting banned for the rest of the series, Kagiso Rabada’s tale has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. The 22-year-old South African, who scalped 11 wickets for the hosts in Port Elizabeth, was banned for the rest of the Test series against Australia after being found guilty of deliberately making contact with the Australian skipper Steve Smith.
The incident occured when Rabada trapped Smith plum in-front for an LBW in the first innings on Day 1 and just when Smith started to walk off, Rabada would go on to brush shoulders with the former. In a series that was already spewing with controversies, Rabada’s action was never going to go unnoticed. He also had another moment when he controversially gave David Warner a send-off after knocking him over in the second innings.
As a result, the 22-year-old went on to accumulate eight demerit points in a 24-month period, leading to a two-Test ban and was fined 50% of his match fee. Further, he also accepted a second misconduct charge of sending off Australia batsman David Warner on day three, taking his total number of demerit points to nine and resulting in a further 15% fine of his match fee.
Addressing the judgement, Rabada said, “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 won’t change the way I express myself but I just will get far away from the batter.” Ironically, this is the third time in nine months, Rabada’s send-offs have come into the spotlight. At Lord’s last July, he told Ben Stokes to “f*** off,” and did the same to Shikhar Dhawan in an ODI at St George’s Park last month.
Speaking about the judgement, ICC match referee Jeff Crowe said, “I found that there was contact between Rabada and Smith, and in my judgement the contact by Rabada was inappropriate, and deliberate. Further, highlighting his disappointment over the incident, Crowe added, “It is also disappointing that this has happened the day after the pre-match meeting I had with both teams, where the importance of respect for opponents was highlighted. I take no pleasure in seeing a player suspended, particularly a young player of Kagiso’s talent, but he has now breached the ICC code of conduct on a number of occasions.”
Meanwhile, Faf Du Plessis’ men will have play the last two tests without their premier strike bowler, but have a retiring veteran in Morne Morkel as good backup. Interestingly, there is a small possibility that South Africa may receive a big boost in the form of their number one bowler Dale Steyn, who has an outside chance to feature in the third Test or if not the the final Test, only if he could regain match fitness.