South African captain Faf du Plessis has called for a wind of change to blow through the International Cricket Council and their disciplinary system following the banning of the freshly-crowned number one ranked bowler in the world, Kagiso Rabada, from the rest of the iconic series against Australia.
A series of largely innocuous misdemeanours by Rabada were rounded off by him being docked three demerit points for brushing against the shirt of Australian captain Steven Smith after dismissing him in the second Test at St George’s Park last weekend, taking him over the threshold of eight demerit points, which leads to an automatic two-match suspension.
The bemused and frustrated Proteas team have just come off a series against India where practically every batsman who was dismissed received a screaming send-off from Virat Kohli and Co, but the only player to be disciplined was Rabada for waving goodbye at a batsman and wishing him “bon voyage” in some choice language.
The only sanction Kohli received was one demerit point and a 25% match-fee fine when he argued with the umpire about the ball being wet in the Centurion Test.
“This is where the balance of the code of conduct, the consistency, comes in. It’s so difficult for the match officials to be consistent because there are always different interpretations of what behaviour crosses the line. You’ll get one match referee or umpire who played hard, old-school Test cricket and then you get others who go much more by the book.
“They should just let us play on, the cricket should be the main focus. We understand that you can’t have no boundaries, but we won’t push the line. The Test cricket I grew up playing – my first series was against Australia – was a real eye-opener and to hear all the things I was called. But it’s good for the game, it’s what makes it exciting, to have three or four fast bowlers running in and you want to see if you can stand up and fight against them. The ICC shouldn’t be so sensitive,” Du Plessis said.
Morne Morkel, left out of the second Test and chasing three wickets to become the fifth South African to take 300 Test wickets, is the obvious replacement for Rabada for the third Test starting in Cape Town on March 22. Especially since Dale Steyn is not yet ready to make his return and will not be playing Sunfoil Series cricket for the Titans this weekend.
The new ICC player rankings released on Tuesday show that Rabada has returned to number one following his matchwinning 11-wicket haul in the second Test with a career-high 902 points, becoming the fourth South African to break the 900-point barrier after Vernon Philander, Shaun Pollock and Dale Steyn.