South Africa have suffered a huge blow with Kagiso Rabada being suspended for the second Test against England at Trent Bridge after he was sanctioned by the ICC for giving Ben Stokes a send-off on the opening day at Lord’s.
Rabada was fined 15% of his match fee and handed one demerit point for this incident, in which he told Stokes to “f**k off” after dismissing him for 56 during England’s first innings. Rabada had previously been given three demerit points for an altercation with Niroshan Dickwella during the one-day international in Cape Town in February. The total of four points means he is now automatically suspended for one Test.
An ICC statement said: “During the opening day’s play in the Lord’s Test against England on Thursday, Rabada was found guilty of breaching article 2.1.7 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Player and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his/her dismissal during an International Match.”
“Thursday’s incident related to Rabada using inappropriate language after dismissing England batsman Ben Stokes, which were audible over the stump microphones and also resulted in the batsman to turn before walking off the field.”
Stokes was the first of Rabada’s three scalps in the England first innings, during which the 21-year old seemed to lack some of his usual venom. Though he has touched his usual 90mph pace, Rabada has struggled for rhythm throughout this tour but his absence will still rob South Africa of one of their most reputed quicks and will only add to the unsettled feeling around the touring side.
South Africa went into the Lord’s Test without captain Faf du Plessis, after he remained at home following the birth of his first child. Du Plessis is expected to be back in time for Trent Bridge, where he will have to manage an attack sans Rabada.
In reserve, South Africa have Duanne Olivier, their first-class competition’s leading-wicket-taker who also bowls quickly, has a good bouncer and made his Test debut against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers, as well as allrounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris. Olivier is the likeliest replacement for Rabada unless South Africa feel the need to beef up the batting reserves and play Morris. Phehlukwayo, who is uncapped, only has an outside chance of playing.
Rabada’s absence will also have a small impact on South Africa’s transformation numbers, which don’t apply from game to game but do add up over the course of a season. South Africa are required to field a minimum average of six players of colour, of which two must be black African.