Kagiso Rabada has admitted that he had let the team down – again – after copping a one-match ban which will force him to miss the final Test against England in Johannesburg with his team trailing 2-1. Two years ago, Rabada had escaped similar punishment, conceding afterwards that he needed to re-evaluate his on-field conduct.
Rabada was charged with a Level 1 offence for reacting aggressively after bowling Joe Root in Port Elizabeth. It earned him one demerit point, taking his total number of active points to four over a two-year period, resulting in the ban.
While expressing his surprise at the punishment, he refused to comment on whether it was disproportionate keeping in mind the offence. “It’s something that I didn’t expect, whether it was the right thing to ban me or the wrong thing, the reality is that I am banned,” Rabada said in a press conference. “Obviously, it hurts, but I guess it gives me a chance to work on my game and gives me a chance to have a bit of a rest.
“I mean, it can’t keep happening, because I am letting the team down and I am letting myself down. It just can’t keep happening, that is why it hurts so much.”
South Africa find themselves under immense pressure having slumped to heavy defeats in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, after starting the series on a winning note in Centurion. They have now lost seven of their last eight Tests, four of them at home. Rabada conceded that the mood in the camp was downbeat, and stressed on the importance of getting into a good mental space before the decider.
“Not great (the mood), you know, we know haven’t played well, it really does hurt us,” he said. “Everyone in our change room, I am 100% sure, are strong characters, and we just need to bounce back. I think, mentally, we need to get into a clear space, so that when we get to Wanderers, we can really play without any second thoughts, and have a good idea about how we want to go about our situation.”
Meanwhile, South Africa are back to full strength – minus Rabada – for the final Test, with Temba Bavuma, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keegan Petersen and Beuran Hendricks rejoining the squad after domestic duty. Bavuma, in particular, comes with form behind him, having struck 180 in his last first-class innings, which could augur well for a struggling batting line-up, should he make the XI.
“We were all together as a squad before the Centurion Test, there was a really good vibe,” Rabada said. “Those guys are coming back now, there’s going to be good vibes again. We are familiar with everyone that was here in the squad, and now when they come back it’s going to be like we are reunited. Yeah, it’ll be good to finish off with the whole squad being around and finishing off with a win.”