South African cricket fans are up in arms at the suspension of Kagiso Rabada, man of the match in the second Test against Australia, whose 11 wickets for 150 runs practically won the equaliser for the Proteas. His suspension by the ICC for two crucial matches will rob South Africa of its best current player for the remainder of the Aussie tour, now poised at one-all.
The ICC sanction, announced on Monday night, is for a fleeting shoulder contact while "KG" was pumped up and celebrating his first-innings dismissal of Baggy Greens captain Steve Smith, who many Proteas fans reckon actually caused the brushing-of-shirts, and then played it up with exactly this result in mind.
Australians, of course, are convinced that their skipper is the victim of the worst shoulder barge in the history of sports, with a level of outraged indignation that has left even English football fans – long used to histrionic victimhood – shaking their heads.
Even if Rabada were at fault, and the contact with Smith were as serious and deliberate as Australia made out when they lost their marbles over it, there's a line between a minor transgression celebrating a wicket and serious misconduct that interferes with another player during play.
Insisting that the incident falls into the misconduct category just looks like sour grapes – especially as KG was in the process of dismantling Australia's batting lineup to give SA a six-wicket win and claim his fourth "tenfer" (10 or more wickets taken in a match) in 28 Tests.
Frankly, the ejection of SA's golden boy just makes the Aussies look like crybabies.
The Culprit: Kagiso Rabada
The Team: Australia
The Offence: Level 2 ICC Code of Conduct offence – "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player"
The Comedy: It doesn't even qualify as a soft nudge – it's just the Aussies making a big deal out of the mere brush of shoulders. The fuss makes Steve Smith and Australia look as soft as a baby's bottom.
Rabada did more than add to his personal tenfer tally in this Test; he also advanced in the record books – his 11-wicket haul leaves him level at number two with Makhaya Ntini, for the most tenfers in a career. Ntini took four in 101 Tests; Dale Steyn took five in 86.
Rabada has taken four in 28 – how long can it be until he's top dog with six? Well, thanks to Steve Smith's delicate shoulder, we have to wait at least four more Tests to find out...
For perspective on how good Rabada really is, this is the list of most 10-wicket Tests for South Africa:— Brydon Coverdale (@brydoncoverdale) March 12, 2018
5 - Dale Steyn (from 86 Tests)
4 - Kagiso Rabada (from 28 Tests)
4 - Makhaya Ntini (from 101 Tests)
3 - Allan Donald (from 72 Tests)#SAvAUS
The hashtag #RabadaArmy surfaced on Twitter immediately, of course, with teammates, former greats and legions of fans coming out in support of this national treasure.
The Australians were dragged mercilessly:
BREAKING: Kagiso Rabada being charged for being fucking amazing and for breaking pathetic little Australian hearts.— Quinton not de Kock (@notdekock) March 12, 2018
Rabada's only offence was to dismiss the world's best batsman, turn a game and show some emotion while doing it— Dennis Rabada (@DennisCricket_) March 10, 2018
Might seem like it is hard on Rabada, especially when he is in the form of his life, but when there is a system, you have to play within it.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 12, 2018
Gone are the days when there were aggressive bowlers in world cricket, it is unfortunate that the game favours batsmen so much. It is saddening to hear about the sanction imposed on KG. The bloody Aussies always complain about everything. #rabadaarmy— sameer ballim (@BallimSameer) March 12, 2018
So Warner basically gets a slap on the wrist for physically threatening & verbally Abusing De Kock but Rabada gets a 2 match ban for walking too close to #Smith.— Hsn Khn (@A_NervousSystem) March 13, 2018
The inconsistency of the #ICC is a disgrace to cricket.#RabadaArmy
Some pundits and fans wagging their fingers at Rabada getting in people's faces. Just a quick reminder that the great fast bowlers are great precisely because they walk the fine line between control and red mist. And sometimes the red mist wins. #SAvAUSpic.twitter.com/V4nU1OQqK8— Tom Eaton (@TomEatonSA) March 11, 2018
Finding out that Rabada is only 22 years old. pic.twitter.com/QdLtHbdlJT— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) March 12, 2018
Has anyone considered that Smith got in Rabada's way?— Dennis Rabada (@DennisCricket_) March 10, 2018
#RabadaArmy— Dr Ishfaq Jamal (@kupwairuk) March 12, 2018
I guess this is pretty unfair of icc to ban rabada. After fast bowling means aggression and this young man has brought new life in test cricket. We accept batsmen yelling profanities after getting 100 but y so unfair towards fast bowlers especially @KagisoRabada25