Kagiso Rabada’s suspension for the second Test against England for his conduct in the recently-concluded Lord’s Test was one of the biggest talking points of that match. The 22-year old right-arm pacer was handed a one-match ban after telling England star Ben Stokes to “f*** off” following the latter’s dismissal on the opening day of the match.
Another dramatic moment in the match came when Rabada dismissed Stokes again in the second innings. And as soon as he got the wicket, stand-in skipper Dean Elgar rushed towards him to cover his mouth to stop him from landing in trouble again. And while Elgar looked keen to stop Rabada from expressing himself, regular skipper Faf du Plessis has said he would never stop the young pacer from displaying his natural instincts.
“I would never say to ‘KG’ to change the way that you are. It’s important that he plays the way that he plays the game,” du Plessis said.“Every guy within cricket needs your natural instinct and personality to come out because that creates the best of you.
After the match ended, Elgar had said that Rabada let himself down as well as the team with his conduct but du Plessis threw his support behind Rabada before adding that the fast-bowler is a ‘real big part’ of the team.
“I would never expect him to apologise to the team. For me, that’s showing what you’re made of. He is showing that he wants to do desperately well for his country. It’s a big disappointment for us not having him. It’s a shame. He is a real big part of this team. In big Test series like this you want to see your big Test players compete against each other,” he added.
The South Africa skipper, who missed the Test due to his first child’s birth, further said that Rabada’s comments were not directed towards Ben Stokes. Du Plessis insisted that his teammate just vented out his frustration after finally managing a breakthrough before defending the pacer by claiming that he hardly swears.
“I don’t think it was anything to do with Ben,” he said. “I think it was a little bit of frustration from ‘KG’. He didn’t have the rhythm that he wanted to and it was just frustration coming through. I played with Ben (in the IPL) and I can tell you he is just as fiery and that’s what makes him so competitive and so skilful. I called him ‘the dragon’ in the IPL because he breathes fire when he gets angry. That’s important when you have characters to come through like that. That’s what I say about KG. For not one second must he lose that.”
“When you play Test cricket you are fighting for your country and you are doing everything you can to win a game of cricket. Controlled emotions is really important. For me, it’s the most important thing as long as it doesn’t take you away from your skill. ‘KG’ doesn’t do that, that was just frustration. I know his personality. He is a very relaxed and quiet guy. He hardly ever swears at the batsmen in the times we’ve played together. That was purely just frustration,” he added.
Meanwhile, South Africa will look to bounce back in the second Test after suffering a heavy 211-run defeat in the Lord’s Test. Set a target of 331, the Proteas were all out for just 119 inside 37 overs but will hope that fortune changes with the arrival of Du Plessis. The second match will be played at Trent Bridge from July 14.