TELFORD VICE at Lord’s
FORMER players from both sides of the divide have rallied in defence of Kagiso Rabada in the wake of the fast bowler being banned for the second test between England and South Africa in Nottingham.
Rabada will miss the match, which starts on Friday, because he was docked a fourth demerit point for telling Ben Stokes to “fuck off” after dismissing him in the first test at Lord’s on Thursday.
The comment, which Rabada bellowed at the top of his lungs, was picked up by the stump microphones and broadcast.
The ban was triggered because Rabada has, since February, had three demerit points hanging over him — his punishment for a physical confrontation with Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella in a one-day international at Newlands.
Players who accumulate four demerit points within 24 months face a mandatory ban for what would be their next match.
Commentating on the BBC’s Test Match Special (TMS) before the start of the third day’s play at Lord’s, former South Africa captain Graeme Smith took a dim view.
“It could have been handled better,” Smith said.
“I don’t think it was aimed at Ben Stokes; I just think it was [said] out of frustration.
“If it wasn’t picked up by the stump mics he wouldn’t have been done.
“No-one wrote about it. No-one spoke about it. It’s ridiculous.”
In fact, Rabada’s comment was published in the Daily Mail on Friday, which would only have added to the pressure on the officials to act.
Rabada was reported by the umpires, Paul Reiffel, Sundaram Ravi, Simon Fry and Rob Bailey, and sanctioned by match referee Jeff Crowe.
Smith took aim at Crowe: “He’s been out on this pitch every morning. Where’s he hiding?”
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen vented on Twitter: “A dying global test game and the ICC (International Cricket Council) suspend a player for a naughty word!
“Rabada is a star!
“More stars out of the game damages the game!
“I played over 100 test matches. The F-word features heavily all day, every day!
“Suspension is f*****g silly!”
Also on TMS, another former England batsman offered a contrary opinion.
“It’s like mothers with their children: there’s got to be a line somewhere,” Geoffrey Boycott said.
“I’m sorry; [Rabada is] a lovely cricketer and I’d like to see him at Trent Bridge.
“But it’s his own fault.”
According to the ICC website, eight players are on the cusp of a ban on three demerit points.
Among them are Faf du Plessis — for the “mintgate” ball-tampering saga in Australia in November — and India left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
That will add spice to the contest when Jadeja bowls to Du Plessis on India’s tour to South Africa next summer.