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The Rabada-ban has robbed cricket

I do not agree with the suspension of Rabada for the Trent Bridge test match. I do understand that it is an accumulation of points following an earlier indiscretion against Sri Lanka, but his charge sheet from Lord's should not have featured.

During play on the first day I noticed Ben Stokes spin his head around following an indifferent shot that resulted in his dismissal by Rabada. I immediately presumed he had received a massive 'send off' from the bowler and I therefore watched the replays with particular interest.

I concluded that Rabada's visual reaction was fine from all shown camera angles. I did hear an offensive audible that forced an apology from the Sky commentators but thought no more about the incident. Everyone else in the 'spaceship' media centre also dismissed it.

I was therefore obviously surprised when I heard about the looming repercussions on the afternoon of day two.

It just wasn't a bad enough reaction from South Africa's young superstar to warrant censure. I reckon a rap over the knuckles and a stern lecture from the match referee was the sole action required. After all, Rabada was only found guilty because the stump microphones were working well.

The game of test cricket is facing popularity problems on unprecedented levels in most countries, and robbing the game of genuine attraction players for minor indiscretions is certainly not doing this format any favours. The second test at Trent Bridge on a quickish surface was always going to be an important encounter. No Rabada now dulls that spectacle, as all will miss witnessing one of the game’s most exciting talents.

The other important point to make is that sport needs characters and moments of aggression to captivate viewers. Those two components are also important in the make-up of fast bowlers. Of course swearing at another player is far from ideal but in the heat of the moment it happens.

Fast bowling is tough and frustrations boil over. In an interview with me for SuperSport, Graeme Smith said that during the earlier stages of his career those two words that Rabada aimed were frequent greetings when he arrived at the crease. I can think of a long list of speedsters over a couple of decades who would hardly have played a game if the game was policed so strictly.

The rubbing out of Rabada has robbed cricket. No-one would have noticed or said anything had no action been taken.

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