Whether players deserve to be banned for celebrating wickets is neither here nor there at this point. Kagiso Rabada has put himself in this situation on several occasions and has learned absolutely nothing.
The quick needed to engage the services of advocate Dali Mpofu to worm his way out of a ban during the series against Australia in 2018. Just a year earlier he had been banned after his infamous send-off of Ben Stokes pushed him over the demerits threshold for the first time. However, Rabada doesn’t appear to be capable of adjusting his behaviour. His outbursts appear to be escalating.
Everybody has an opinion about fast bowlers and how much aggression is appropriate for them to show on the field and Rabada will have no shortage of folks rushing to his defence. Still, the paceman just keeps making the same mistakes.
A criticism levelled at the Proteas batsmen is that they lack match awareness, which some describe as a cricketing brain, but it seems they are not alone in this deficiency.
Rabada had to be aware of where he stood from a disciplinary point of view and, as the Proteas’ lead strike bowler, is too valuable a player to be lost to such a silly ban.
At 148 for four, an over the top celebration of the England skipper’s wicket was totally unnecessary and looked 10 times more foolish when Stokes and Ollie Pope proceeded to put on 203 for the fifth wicket.
As Graeme Smith seeks to drag South African cricket through the professional era, it is vital that the Proteas’ elite players conduct themselves accordingly.
In past interviews, Rabada has expressed the need to control himself, but that now looks like the product of some media coaching.
Rabada’s actions on the field show that he has not taken on board the criticism levelled at him and his one-match ban could wind up costing the Proteas the Test series.
As the Proteas’ best bowler for the last four years, he has established himself as a senior player despite being just 24-years-old, but the team needs him to mature faster, contain his aggression and channel that energy into bowling fast.