Smith: 'Poster boy' Rabada is overburdened

Kagiso Rabada (Gallo Images)
Kagiso Rabada (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Kagiso Rabada is overburdened by being the poster boy of South African cricket, Director of Cricket (DOC) Graeme Smith believes. 

Rabada is suspended for Friday's fourth Test match against England at the Wanderers as a result of the demerit point he picked up following his celebration of Joe Root's wicket in the first innings of the third Test in Port Elizabeth. 

It was Rabada's fourth such misdemeanour over a two-year period, which is what resulted in the suspension. 

His absence is understandably a massive blow to the Proteas, who go into the contest on the ropes already and 2-1 down in the series with this the final Test match. 

Addressing media at Cricket South Africa's (CSA) headquarters in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Smith hopes that this incident will see Rabada keep his emotions in check.

"It can't happen anymore. He is disappointed," Smith said.

"There is an element of consistency from the ICC that we do need to get and understand but we cannot have our gun bowler missing games for these type of things anymore.

"It's learning how to channel that emotion in the moment, when your adrenaline is pumping and you have put in the hard work.

"How does he channel that better? How does he become a charismatic man for the environment and the crowd without actually transgressing? So these are things that hopefully we will be able to guide and groom him but also in those moments on the field, with that instinct, how he responds is important," he said.

"Sometimes you do get hot-headed, we have all been there, on the field, when your emotions are running high, you're in the moment, it's a battle between you and the top batter, and vice-versa, and that's got to come now. He is experienced enough to know how to channel that and that's what we've got to get out of him."

Smith believes that the 24-year-old has taken too much on his shoulders and has called on his team-mates to step up.

"He is a poster boy and we need to develop more poster boys. Too much has been put on his shoulders as well. He is on every ad, playing every game, he is carrying the can. If he doesn't perform well, we are in trouble," said Smith.

"I think it's a good thing he is being rested in this series, we need to see some other people step up and start filling that void and taking some pressure off him. Maybe that will help as well.

"In this period where he is going to have an extra week off... we will be having discussions on channelling his emotions better and still being that aggressive fast bowler that South African cricket needs," Smith said.

"He does need support from players around him and needs people to come through and carry some of that can so that he doesn't always feel like he is the ultimate guy that needs to deliver. We need to have more players around him. We need to get people like Lungi (Ngidi) permanently on the field and fit and so on."

The final Test is scheduled to get underway on Friday at 10:00 in Johannesburg.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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