South Africa's champion fast bowler Kagiso Rabada concedes he needs to address his on-field behaviour after being issued with a two-Test suspension at the conclusion of the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
Rabada's superb performance with the ball – his 11/150 was a fourth 10-wicket haul in just 28 Tests – was tempered by two separate flashpoints during the match.
The first incident happened in the 52nd over of Australia’s first innings: when moving towards the slips, Rabada made contact with Steve Smith with his shoulder. He was found guilty of a Level 2 ICC Code of Conduct offence of ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player’. He has received a fine of 50% of his match fee and three demerit points after a disciplinary hearing following his denial of the charge.
This means Rabada has accumulated eight demerit points within a 24-month period, automatically leading to a two-match suspension.
The second incident concerned Rabada's send-off of David Warner in the second innings, for which he accepted a second charge under 2.1.7 of the code – using language, actions or gestures which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his or her dismissal. He received a further 15% fine of his match fee and an additional demerit point, bringing his total to nine.
BREAKING: Kagiso Rabada has been suspended for South Africa's next two Tests after being found guilty of a Level 2 ICC Code of Conduct offence of ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player’.— ICC (@ICC) March 12, 2018
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Speaking at the post-match press conference before his suspension was confirmed, Rabada accepted that his on-field conduct needs to change. "It's going to have to stop," he said. "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," he said, adding: "I have to move forward. I have to see it as a big learning curve. And not repeat the same mistake. I have repeated the same mistake in the eyes of the umpires. I am not happy about it but time moves on."
When asked what goes through his mind when he takes a wicket, Rabada cited passion as the driving force. "I don't know what I am thinking actually. To be honest, I just let it out," he said. "It's a big series, there is a lot to play for. There's a whole lot of emotion and pride. You don't want to roll over. You want to get them out.
"It's competitive. There's a history of South Africa and Australia playing against each other. You're playing for the No.1 spot. There's a whole lot that you're playing for. Also playing for personal milestones and team milestones as well and it just comes out."
Commenting on the suspension, Jeff Crowe of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees said: “I found that there was contact between Rabada and Smith, and in my judgement the contact by Rabada was inappropriate, and deliberate. He had the opportunity to avoid the contact, and I could not see any evidence to support the argument that the contact was accidental.
“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.”