Boucher warns against taking passion out of game as Rabada banned for final Test

Chris Stocks at Port Elizabeth
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Mark Boucher has voiced fears the passion could be taken out of the game after the South Africa coach’s pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada was banned by the International Cricket Council for next week’s final Test in Johannesburg.

Rabada was punished for his send-off to Joe Root during the first day of the third Test in Port Elizabeth after he bowled the England captain and then ran over and screamed in his direction.

Rabada received one demerit point for “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”. Added to his previous record of three points over the past 24 months, he will miss the final Test at the Wanderers starting on Friday.

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His absence is a massive blow to South Africa’s hopes in the series and under ICC regulations the hosts cannot appeal the charge because as a level one offence the verdict of the match referee, on this occasion Andy Pycroft, is final.

That has led Boucher to question how far the authorities want to go before emotion is stripped away from the game. “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it,” he said of Rabada’s celebration. “You don’t want to take all the aggression out of the game. He wasn’t even looking at him. Yes, he was in his space but the two put together there’s probably different ways you can look at it.”

Referencing Jos Buttler’s sledging of Vernon Philander in the previous Test in Cape Town, for which the England wicketkeeper also received one demerit point, Boucher added: “The swear words weren’t great, but it’s aggression. In our day, we’d push very hard for a win and try to make batters feels uncomfortable. The laws have changed. I understand where the ICC want to go. Hopefully they find a balance.”