Kagiso Rabada has reportedly been left heartbroken by a one-match suspension for swearing, which means he will not be involved in the second Test at Trent Bridge on Friday. The 22-year-old’s punishment was triggered after stump microphones caught him sending England’s Ben Stokes off with a fiery “fuck you” in the first Test at Lord’s. Rabada earned a fourth disciplinary point for his transgression and match referee Jeff Crowe was called into action. Perhaps it is time for the ICC to be dragged kicking and screaming from its high tea into 2017.
Yes, Rabada would have been aware that he had to tread carefully, but the days of cricket being a genteel pursuit in the watercress sandwich and wrist-clapping colonial vein are long gone. Anyone who refers to the sport as the “Gentleman’s Game” does only in the name of tradition, not with any sort of to the modern game. And anyone who has spent time on a cricket field will know that swearing is as much a part of the sport as willow, leather and inane statistics.
Professional sport has been likened to a “war without bullets”. Emotions will inevitably run high during matches and this is one of the reasons why cricket continues to be an enthralling spectacle. As former English batsman Kevin Petersen put it in a tweet: “A dying global Test game and the ICC suspend a player for a naughty word! Rabada is a star! More stars out the game damages the game!”
The ICC’s heavy-handedness in imposing a one-match ban will rob South Africa of their key strike bowler and deliver a potential death blow to the Proteas’ chances of achieving a result in England. More than anything else, however, it will deprive dwindling Test match audiences of the majestic sight of a fast bowler in his prime and in full cry.