Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada will be hurting after being suspended for the remainder of South Africa’s Test series but the paceman’s absence is a bonus for Australia, according to assistant coach Brad Haddin.
Rabada and Cricket South Africa are still weighing up whether to appeal a two-Test ban for brushing shoulders with Australia captain Steve Smith on day one of the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
But should the 22-year-old, who was named player of the match at St George’s Park, have his suspension upheld and miss the final two Test of the series currently locked at one-all, Haddin says the youngster will be left stinging sitting on the sidelines.
“It’s disappointing for Rabada, but he’ll have an interesting couple of Test matches,” Haddin told reporters in PE.
“I know the South Africans, playing us, I’ve heard them say a couple of times this is their big series and now he’s got to sit back and watch what’s going on out there.
“It will be interesting to see how he comes back after that, because he’ll be hurting, no doubt, over the next couple of Test matches.”
Without Rabada, South Africa lose the leading wicket-taker in the series, their fastest quick and a bowler with the best Test strike rate with at least 100 wickets in more than 120 years.
Take a player like that out of any side and it automatically becomes weaker, even with a world-class bowler like Morne Morkel waiting in the wings who is just three wickets short of 300.
Rabada claimed 11-150 in South Africa’s six-wicket win in PE and Haddin says it’s a shame not to see the right-armer in action, but at the same time it’s an obvious benefit for the tourists.
“He’s very impressive,” Haddin said.
“For someone so young, the smarts he has the with ball in his hand, knowing when to go up and down gears and looking from the sidelines it looks like he really understands how to set up a batsman.
“For someone so young that’s quite impressive.
“I thought the spell in the second innings to go after Warner and the openers, that was a pretty placid wicket, and from where I was sitting that was some pretty hostile bowling.
“He took it on himself there to get the big wicket of Davey (Warner). Davey played well in that first innings (for 60).
“It’s disappointing for the game that he’s not playing but from our point of view it’s a bonus because he is a class act.”
While there have been some outstanding individual performances in two captivating Tests so far, the series has been marred by a constant flow of player indiscretions that has worn out match referee Jeff Crowe’s ICC Code of Conduct manual from overuse.
Incidents such as the stairwell scuffle at Kingsmead between Australia vice-captain David Warner and South Africa gloveman Quinton de Kock, the send-offs by Rabada and Nathan Lyon, and Mitchell Marsh’s offensive language as he left St George’s Park have all seen demerit points added and fines dished out.
Haddin joins former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith and current captain Faf du Plessis as the latest voice calling for the focus to return to the battle between bat and ball by two evenly-matched teams.
“I think we’re giving it too much oxygen, to be honest,” Haddin said.
“Everyone needs to take a step back.
“Let’s start playing cricket more on skill and less on emotion.
“Both sides have been guilty of things they’re probably not proud of over the last two Test matches.
“But we’re one-all, it’s time to play some cricket on skill and leave that other stuff to the side.”
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage