TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
KAGISO Rabada is the flavour of the month everywhere he goes – except in the match referee’s office at Newlands on Tuesday.
And that could impact on his availability for South Africa in what will be their busiest campaign in years.
Fast bowling sensation Rabada was fined half his match fee and docked three demerit points for an altercation with Sri Lankan opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella during the fourth one-day international.
The players collided at the non-striker’s end during the 12th over of the Lankan innings, which can happen in cricket’s hurly-burly.
But match referee Richie Richardson took a dim view and, in the words of an International Cricket Council release on Wednesday, was responsible for “such contact being judged to have been avoidable”.
That put both Rabada and Dickwella on the wrong side of the code of conduct, which prohibits “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player, player support personnel, umpire, match referee or any other person (including a spectator) in the course of play during an international match”.
Neither Rabada nor Dickwella, who was hit with the same penalty, contested the charge, which was laid by the umpires.
The fine is neither here nor there, but for the next 24 months Rabada will be only one demerit point away from earning a ban.
A similar Sword of Damocles hangs over South Africa’s test captain, Faf du Plessis, in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal that hit the tour to Australia in November.
South Africa can ill afford to be without either Rabada or Du Plessis in the next 13 months, when they will play test series against England, India and Australia as well as in the Champions Trophy.