AB de Villiers says Kagiso Rabada has to start being smarter about his celebrations ahead of the fast bowler’s disciplinary hearing on Sunday night, which is unlikely to go well after he again raised eyebrows with an in-your-face outburst after dismissing David Warner on Sunday afternoon.
Rabada had already been charged for the first-innings incident in which he brushed shoulders with Steven Smith after trapping the Australian captain lbw for 25.
With the International Cricket Council clamping down on physical contact between players, Rabada has been charged with a Level Two offence, which carries with it a sanction of at least three demerit points, which would take him to eight points, the threshold for a second suspension, which would automatically be for two Tests, therefore ruling him out of the rest of the series.
While the Proteas will plead that there was no deliberate contact between Rabada and Smith, with their shirts barely rubbing together, the fast bowler’s cause will not be helped by his celebration on Sunday after he bowled Warner, the protagonist in the ugly scenes from the first Test in Durban, with a superb delivery that started by angling away from the left-hander, before straightening to bowl him through the gate.
Rabada roared out a few words into Warner’s face and the reaction from the umpires at the time suggests he could also be charged with misconduct for that excessive celebration.
“I have a lot of sympathy and I’m glad I’m not a bowler because they toil, they run in all day, it’s hard on the body and when they get a breakthrough they just want to celebrate. Obviously KG has crossed the line a couple of times, but if I was a bowler I’m sure I would have had a couple of bans by now.
“He just wants to tell the batsman that he won the battle, but he’s got to be smarter and he knows that, he will have learnt from his mistakes. There was a lot of emotion coming into this Test and it’s like with Dale Steyn, you don’t know what’s going on in that brain but you just see the eyes going all over the place. So you know you have to get to him quickly and it’s important that some of our players get around KG before he gets close to the batsman,” De Villiers said on Sunday.
De Villiers said his own celebration after reaching his hundred, his first in Test cricket for three years, was a “10 out of 10”.
“It felt like 10 out of 10 to get my hundred, it was right up there with one of my best, and I was very nervous in the 90s. I told Vern I was struggling to breathe and my legs went numb. But I told myself that it wasn’t about myself, it was about doing it for the team, and that helped, although it was still very difficult after not scoring a hundred for three years,” De Villiers said.
De Villiers said he actually believes that he still needs to prove that he belongs in the Test team.
“I was very motivated, I always am against Australia, and I wanted to prove I should keep my spot in the team, you’re always just a couple of innings away from people asking whether you are still good enough,” De Villiers said after his tremendous 126 not out had given South Africa a 139-run first-innings lead.
Australia had struggled to 180 for five by stumps, effectively 41 for five going into the penultimate day.