LONDON – Kagiso Rabada’s not going to change his fiery, competitive nature on the field – he can’t – but he’ll bite his tongue in future, lest he fall foul of the law again.
Rabada let loose a primal roar and thrust both arms powerfully in celebration after his glorious dismissal of England debutant Dawid Malan with a 141km/h yorker that knocked back the stumps and left the batsman on his knees.
No words were said, none were required and henceforth, that’s the way Rabada wants to keep it.
“Obviously I made a mistake, and I won’t make it again. That’s it. Just don’t say anything,” he remarked after play on Thursday.
The one-match ban which kept him out of the Trent Bridge Test hurt, he acknowledged.
In the first Test at Lord’s, Rabada was heard shouting “f*** off” after dismissing Ben Stokes in the first innings.
Neither team nor any former players who’ve viewed the incident subsequently believe Rabada directed those words at Stokes – rather, it was a release of his own frustration.
“It’s really simple: don’t swear, but just be yourself. I don’t have any bad intentions. We talk off the field, myself and Stokes and the other players,” said Rabada.
“We go and have a beer together after the game. It’s just that in the game, it gets really competitive and there’s a history of playing against one another that also sparks that competitiveness.
“I don’t think I’ll stop the way I’m playing, I’ll just follow the rules.”
That it should lead to a Test ban – as a result of earning additional demerit points following an incident earlier in the season with Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella – is something that’s proved a painful lesson for the 22 year old.
“It’s never nice being banned. It was a disappointment, but if you’re not disappointed, it shows that you don’t care enough,” he said. “I knew that I had messed up, but I knew that there were a lot of guys coming in that could perform. Like Morrie (Chris Morris), look what he did in the last Test match.
“I knew the team wasn’t going to be any worse. We’ve got a lot of talent. I’m not the main guy of the team. But yeah, it was a bit heartbreaking, but you just have to move on.”
Rabada has been itching to get going for this Test, and perhaps it was in trying too hard in his first spell on Thursday that his lines weren’t as good as they should have been. He ended with 1/32 in 13 overs, with four maidens.
He admitted that watching Vernon Philander, who finished with two wickets on the day, was a reminder of what was required in the Test arena.
“I was watching from mid-wicket in the last session, and I thought he bowled so well. Going off the field, I asked him for a few pointers. He is a really skilful bowler, especially in these conditions. He makes it look really simple.”
One of England’s other debutants, Tom Westley, was left to rue what he felt was a soft dismissal after lunch when he went hard at Morris outside off, and a thick edge was well taken by captain Faf du Plessis at second slip.
“It was a step up in terms of everything that goes along with Test cricket, the pressure, but that’s why it was equally frustrating because I felt I was coping nicely for that hour before lunch, and the soft dismissal after was frustrating.”
Westley scored 25 and shared a second-wicket stand of 52 with his Essex teammate Alastair Cook.
“It was nice batting with someone, when you know them, you know their game and they know yours, we have a good understanding in the middle.
“But he can’t score runs for me, it’s nice having him at the other end, but he can’t do it. Only I can do it for me, which is a shame because I’d have taken his runs today,” said Westley.