Getting pace bowler Kagiso Rabada riled up to be at his aggressive best has been encouraged by South Africa’s new cricket coaching regime, but it seemingly backfired, on Friday, when he was banned from the last Test against England.
South Africa’s top bowler is suspended for next week’s fourth Test in Johannesburg after picking up another demerit point from the International Cricket Council, leaving his country’s much-vaunted attack toothless for the potential series decider.
The 24-year-old was punished for a typically exuberant celebration after bowling England captain Joe Root with a magnificent delivery on the first day of the third Test at St George’s Park.
Taking such a prized scalp prompted Rabada to rush down the wicket, drop to his haunches and let out a piercing yell at the ground, right under the nose of his victim.
Friday’s sanction was the latest in a growing list of indiscretions which have earned him demerit points and now an untimely suspension.
Yet for South Africa, Rabada performs optimally when his fires are stoked.
“You saw KG (Rabada) get out there have a couple of words. The goal was to try and get him into the game and then just let his natural instinct take over. That’s when KG is at his best,” said coach Mark Boucher after Rabada’s seven wickets helped South Africa win the first Test in Pretoria last month.
“Sometimes you’ve got to forget about your technique or where you are putting the ball and just get into a fight out there,” said the team’s equally combative coach.
“Kagiso is always looking for a scrap,” added bowling coach Charl Langeveldt in an approving tone after Thursday’s play.
Off the field, Rabada — the baby-faced, privately-educated son of a medical doctor — is thoughtful and enquiring. But on the pitch it is a different story.
“My natural aggression and competitiveness is always there, but the really high intensity and emotion just happens impulsively,” Rabada said last month, just before the start of the England series.
“The aggression is something that is naturally in me. It makes me a better bowler. It helps me bowl faster for longer. I haven’t always been in control of it but I’m getting better.”
Rabada has been found guilty of breaching the ICC’s code of conduct on six occasions now since his debut as a teenage tearaway six years ago.
Ironically he was one month away from one of his four demerit points over the last 24 months being expunged. There is no hope of an appeal because his level-one offence cannot be challenged.