Joe Root was worried about reacting and getting in trouble himself to the ‘over-zealous’ celebration of Kagiso Rabada after taking his wicket that landed him a one-match ban.
‘That was my only concern,’ said the England captain. ‘Thankfully I held my tongue, waited patiently until he’d finished and walked off. He was obviously quite close but I didn’t have an issue with it. If I say anything on this it will get someone into trouble so I’m going to keep my mouth shut.
‘The most important thing for us as a team is that we respect decisions made on the field and we don’t put ourselves in a position where guys are missing games because of celebrations or send offs. We go about things the right way.’
Rabada charged down the wicket after clean bowling the England captain for 27 on day one of the third Test, stopping just in front of him as he pumped his fists and shouted in celebration.
It appeared to be a natural reaction to the dismissal of arguably England’s best batsman, but Zimbabwean official Andy Pycroft charged the bowler with a level one breach of the International Cricket Council’s disciplinary code.
The breach relates to ‘using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal during an international match’.
It’s fair to say Kagiso Rabada was pleased with that. #SAvENGpic.twitter.com/S9tqxCIMNy
Rabada was fined 15 per cent of his match fee but more importantly picked up a demerit point – taking his tally to the threshold of four in a two-year period.
Rabada’s absence will be a huge loss to South Africa, he’s ranked the fourth best bowler in the world having taken 195 Test wickets in his career so far.
The 24-year-old previously received two of his three demerit points – which are handed to players for breaches of conduct – in the bad-tempered Test series against Australia in 2018.
That series culminated in the infamous ball-tampering scandal which saw Australia captain Steve Smith and batsman David Warner handed lengthy bans.
Rabada’s third point was the result of his celebration after dismissing India’s Shikhar Dhawan earlier in 2018.
It’s not the first time the bowler has been banned for an accumulation of demerit points – back in 2017 he missed the second Test against England at Trent Bridge.
Rabada’s ban was met with criticism from numerous high-profile figures, including former England captain Michael Vaughan.
He tweeted: ‘Rabada getting a 1 game ban for celebrating taking the Wicket of the opponents best player is absolutely bonkers … Over rates & slow play nothing gets done … Celebrate a wicked and you are banned … The World is bloody nuts …#SAvENG
Another ex-England captain, Michael Atherton, was equally surprised by the referee’s decision to punish Rabada. ”I don’t have a problem with that celebration,’ he said to Sky Sports. ‘He’s not swearing at the batsman, he’s not abusing the batsman.
Rabada getting a 1 game ban for celebrating taking the Wicket of the opponents best player is absolutely bonkers … Over rates & slow play nothing gets done … Celebrate a wicked and you are banned … The World is bloody nuts … #SAvENG
‘It’s a little over-zealous and it’s a little close to Joe Root but is that worthy of a demerit point and a subsequent ban? I don’t think so.’
Nasser Hussain was equally scathing and said cricket risks ruining the excitement of the game and its appeal to fans with its implementation of such strict rules.
‘If I’ve spent my hard-earned cash on tickets for the fourth Test and want to see Rabada bowl, I’m getting short-changed by the fact that he’s not there,’ he said.
‘I want my kids to celebrate with emotion. Otherwise let’s have 11 robots out there, who don’t show any emotion.’