I write this piece with a heavy heart for what was meant to be a celebratory moment has somehow turned sour. No it is not because of the ICC decision either. The frustration is caused by the nature of it, the much talked about suspension of Kagiso Rabada. A six wicket win against a good Australian side is always cause for celebration. The news that followed that magnificent bowling spell is what’s troubling every cricket fan out there.
The star of this victory will not be there to finish off the job as the series enters the business end. No he is not injured, it’s neither Dale Steyn nor Vernon Philander breaking down again mid series. It’s the ever fit young pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada. A man with a fiery temper and a delivery to match.
In January Virat Kohli and co arrived on these shores and many still talk about him up to this day, he is another man who wears his heart on his sleeve and his passion is shown in the way he celebrates whenever a wicket falls, a gentleman off the field but a passionate competitor on it, he divides opinion but ask any teammate they will tell you, they would rather he was on their team than playing against him.
Kagiso Rabada is another player on that Kohli tip, he plays with passion and loves a wicket, his celebration “send offs” has led to a number of charges from ICC – 5 charges in the last 12 months leading to 8 demerits points and thus a two test match suspension.
A man who has tormented many a batsman in world cricket. A star of the Aiden Markram led under-19 side a few years back, Rabada has taken to senior cricket like a duck to water. He has taken the most wickets of all the pacers since his debut and is already on 4 ten-wicket hauls in 28 matches, mind you the legendary yesteryear quartet of Walsh, Ambrose, Donald and McGrath only managed three each throughout their careers just to put that into perspective. His talent has never been in doubt but his fiery temper has somehow led to him sitting out a number of internationals.
The news that he has been given a two-match suspension after his “shoulder brush” with Aussie captain Steve Smith came as no surprise. The more you looked at the incident the more worried you became considering the direction the game is taking. No, the incident was not as bad as the Warner – De Kock “stairsgate” but then again the cricket governing body has been known to come hard at such on field “coming together”. The De Kock-Warner incident meant this was already a difficult match and the tension on a knife edge. Before the first ball of the series was bowled, the debate was already on about which bowling attack would dominate, with both sides fast bowlers dominating the bowling rankings in the past few years, this was billed as the battle of the best in the world. Both were keen to show who the actual best is. With Smith and De Villiers leading their respective batting line ups, this was a series to behold. The incident in the first test already added fuel to what was already a blazing fire.
As a fast bowler, how do you send a message without crossing the line with so much at stake? You could argue fast bowlers work the hardest when it comes to test matches, running in, beating the edge of the bat numerous times, some edges dropping just short of the slip cordon, dropped catches, LBW close calls going against you but amidst all that one has to keep going. For a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, Kagiso Rabada is bound to react the way he does whenever he takes an important wicket. He is a fierce competitor who loves confrontation. It brings out the best in him. Not that I condone sending someone off but everyone loves a passionate sportsman.
Of all of his suspensions, none has dominated the headlines like this one, why? Because we have been robbed of what could have been a fantastic, competitive test series which at the time of writing is nicely poised at 1 all with two to play. Should Kagiso Rabada curb it a bit, maybe but then again what if he loses his inner fire in the process. I would rather this KG than one who keeps his emotions inside and is less effective.
And as I wrap this piece, Kagiso Rabada has just been confirmed as the top test bowler in the latest test rankings. Oh ICC where are you taking this game to or is it, Oh KG what have you done again? You be the judge.