Savage wild child goes too far
KAGISO Rabada has been told to behave better by South Africa, with the fiery fast bowler facing a series ban as he sweats on the match referee's ruling of a physical send-off of Steve Smith in Port Elizabeth.
Rabada's hearing over a level-two charge for making physical contact with Australia skipper Smith unfolded behind closed doors after play on day three of the second Test.
Match referee Jeff Crowe heard Rabada's side of events, with the express paceman understood to have argued that contact with Smith's shoulder was not deliberate. The hearing spanned almost an hour.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and team manager Mohammed Moosajee were also present. Crowe now has 24 hours to arrive at a decision regarding one of Rabada's two send-offs that have marred the ongoing match at St George's Park.
Rabada's poor disciplinary record means he will miss the third and fourth Tests unless the Proteas successfully have the charge downgraded.
Even if that transpires, a ban could be triggered if Rabada cops a further demerit point for giving David Warner a screaming send-off on Sunday night. The 22-year-old is one of the best bowlers in the world but his white line fever is cause for concern.
"He's got to be smarter and he knows that," Proteas veteran AB de Villiers said. "I won't say we're frustrated.
"I just have a lot of sympathy ... he's crossed the line a couple of times and I think he's regretting that.
"I don't know what is going to happen to him after this Test but if he is around for the next Test match I think he would have learnt from his mistakes."
De Villiers said Rabada's antics were the result of the tension that's been built up in the series across the first Test-and-a-half, and noted they were not entirely dissimilar to the emotion showed by compatriot Dale Steyn, who often celebrates wickets like a man possessed.
"There was a lot of emotion from that last Test match going into this one and once again, as a fast bowler, you want to prove things to people and you want to show everyone you belong on this stage," he said.
"In a way I understand it. Dale (Steyn), when he's on fire, you don't even understand what's going on in that mind; you just see eyes and all sorts of stuff.
"Luckily for him he's never sort of crossed that line, but I think it's because we get to him.
"It's up to some of our senior guys to just help him (Rabada). It's important some of the players get around him before he is close to a batter to tell him, 'You know what? I just got you out.'
"I would've been the same. You see me when I take a good catch and it's a big wicket ... thank goodness I'm not close to the batter because I think I'll do the same thing. I have sympathy for the guys who cross the line but they've got to find a way."
The Proteas may opt to rush Steyn, who has started bowling in the nets after recovering from a heel injury, back into their XI if Rabada is banned. Australia's bowling coach David Saker admitted Rabada's enforced omission would be a huge boost for the tourists.
"It'd be handy for us not to have to face him," Saker said. "He's been probably one of the outstanding bowlers of the series so far and with his pace and the way he strikes, I think his strike rate's one of the better ones in the world, it would be beneficial if we didn't have to face him.
"I'm probably the worst person ever to be commenting on disciplinary (issues).
"But I think the game has moved forward since the times I played. If I played now I'd probably only play two games a year.
"You're trying to win for your country and sometimes you can go overboard, but it's not a great look."
Rabada missed a Test against England last year because of a send-off, while pace icon Michael Holding has already warned him he must take control of his emotions.