Kagiso Rabada is awaiting a hearing and subsequently the decision on the Level 2 charge against him for a shoulder brush against Steve Smith in the second Test at Port Elizabeth. If that wasn’t enough to unnerve a player and question his disciplinary record, a second charge will add to his woes of playing a further part in the series. He has been hit by a Level 1 offence for the send-off he gave to Australia opener David Warner in the second innings. Rabada is currently on five demerit points and could earn three more if found guilty of the Level 2 charge. As a result of which, he would be banned for the next two Tests. South Africa are currently playing a four-match Test series against Australia.
Rabada has already responded to the Level 2 charge but hasn’t done so for the Level 1 offence which was levelled against him for screaming in Warner’s face on Day 3 after dismissing him. Though no expletives were heard, provoking a response from the batsman is also an offence according to ICCs code of conduct. If found guilty of both offences, Rabada’s tally of demerit points will go up by at least nine which means he will be breaching the 12 point limit. Twelve demerit points, as per ICC’s code of conduct, amounts to suspension of at least three Tests.
The disciplinary issues in the series went up even further when Mitchell Marsh was captured on camera hurling a verbal abuse at Rabada. After being bowled on Monday morning, Rabada ran past Marsh in celebration while the Australian allrounder mumbled “f*** you c***” as he turned his head towards the seamer.
Rabada’s possible absence from the series, if he is handed two-match suspension, at least, could affect South Africa’s chances significantly. He is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 15 wickets. He brought South Africa into a strong position on the first day itself with five wickets in 18 balls. In the second innings, he wrapped up Australia’s innings with 6/54. South Africa’s trouble with seamers could go up even further if Dale Steyn fails to recover from injury.
‘Rabada has to get smarter’
With Rabada’s fate in the series hanging in match referee Jeff Crowe’s hands, AB de Villiers believes the youngster needs to be smarter with his celebration. “He’s got to be smarter and he knows that,” said de Villiers at the end of Day 3. “I don’t know what is going to happen to him after this Test but if he is around for the next Test match I think he would have learned from his mistakes. There was a lot of emotion from that last Test match going into this one and once again as a fast bowler you want to prove things to people and you want to show everyone you belong on this stage,” he added.
The former skipper feels the senior members in the team need to help him control the aggression. “I think it’s up to some of our senior guys to just help him,” de Villiers said. “It’s important to some of the players to get around him before he close to a batter to tell him ‘you know what? I just got you out’. That’s what it basically comes down to except with more emotion. He wants to tell him ‘I just won that battle’. I would’ve been the same. You see me when I take a good catch and it’s a big wicket … thank goodness I’m not close to the batter because I think I’ll do the same thing.”
Comparing Rabada with Steyn and the fire that comes with getting a wicket, especially in a heated series such as this, AB de Villiers once again reiterated that the teammates need to step in to avoid further damage. “I won’t say we’re frustrated. I can’t speak for him, I just have a lot of sympathy. I’m not a bowler but I can’t imagine being a bowler, having to toil out there, run in, it’s hard on the body, it’s hard on the mind. You get a breakthrough and you just want to celebrate and that’s his way. Obviously, he’s crossed the line a couple of times and I think he’s regretting that”
“But I’m glad I’m not a bowler because I reckon I would’ve been worse than him. I struggled to breathe and my legs went numb. Dale (Steyn), when he’s on fire, you don’t even understand what’s going on in that mind, you just see eyes and all sorts of stuff.
“Luckily for him he’s never sort of crossed that line. But I think it’s because we get to him. We’ll try and get to KG before he does the damage,” he went on to add on the matter.