South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada banned for next Test after Joe Root celebration


Kagiso Rabada will miss the fourth and final Test of South Africa’s series with England after receiving a demerit point after being found guilty of a level one break of the ICC’s code of conduct for players and player support personnel. 

The punishment, which is also accompanied by a 15% fine of his match fee, relates to an incident that took place on day one of the third Test in Port Elizabeth. Rabada, having taken out Joe Root’s off-stump, dismissing the England captain for 27, celebrated by continuing his follow-through, leaping and then screaming as soon as he landed right in front of the England captain’s path. 

The indiscretion, which violates Article 2.5 of the code –  “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal during an international match” – has ticked Rabada over to four demerit points in a 24 month period and as such will miss South Africa’s next Test match. 

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Being a level one offence, South Africa will not be able to appeal the charge which Rabada admitted to at the end of day one, accepting the sanction proposed by Andy Pycroft of the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees and, as such, there was no need for a formal hearing. His previous three demerit points took place in 2018, the last two coming in the same Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth for incidents involving Steve Smith and David Warner. The first also came on this ground, for conduct towards India’s Shikhar Dhawan in 2018.

Rabada’s reaction  on Thursday was similar to his upon dismissing Zak Crawley in the second innings of the second Test in Cape Town which perhaps led to this official reprimand that now leaves South Africa shorn of the spearhead of their attack who came into this match with 195 wickets from 42 caps, ticking over to 197 on the first day of his 43rd. 

It leaves South Africa in a quandary. At the time of writing, Rabada is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 14. The hosts, having one the first Test, were bested comprehensively in the second and face an uphill struggle in the third. 

Regardless of who wins this Test – and the odds are very much in England’s favour – the fourth will still be live. And shorn of a bowler who makes the most out of any surface put in front of him – not to mention a dearth in quality back-up for the Proteas – they will be at a huge disadvantage. 

Out of context, the punishment seems harsh. Rabada made no beeline for Root, per se, and was simply celebrating a crucial wicket on a day when South Africa only took four. But he does have previous, even beyond the three points prior to this fourth. In the previous Test at Newlands, he celebrated just as vociferously when dismissing Zak Crawley in the second innings. 

His biggest crime, without doubt, is not learning where the ICC draw a line on these matters.

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