Boucher to ICC: Do not take emotion out of the game

Mark Boucher (Gallo)
Mark Boucher (Gallo)

Cape Town - Proteas coach Mark Boucher has challenged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to refrain from taking emotion out of the game. 

This follows the news on Friday that South African speedster Kagiso Rabada would miss the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers, starting on January 24, as a result of an ICC suspension

Rabada picked up one demerit point for his animated celebration after dismissing England captain Joe Root on day one of the third Test in Port Elizabeth, and given his previous infringements over the last 24 months, it was enough to see him cross the four demerit point mark that results in a one-match ban. 

Speaking about the incident at the post-day press conference on Friday, Boucher conceded that he did not know about the suspension until Friday morning and that he was also unfamiliar with how exactly the ICC demerit point system worked. 

"It's disappointing. I heard about it this morning. I've just come into the system and I wasn't aware of all the demerit points and how it quite works," he said.

"To hear this morning that he'll be banned for the second Test is a massive blow to us, I'll be honest. He is a world class performer, especially at the Wanderers where I think he would be very effective."

Boucher said that he had spoken to match referee Andy Pycroft on Thursday evening, where the interpretation of the ICC code of conduct relating to celebratory misdemeanours was discussed. 

"The bottom line is that it doesn't really matter. The match referee has looked at it and, in his eyes, it is a demeanour," Boucher said. 

Boucher encouraged the ICC to enforce their laws in a way that did not take the raw emotion out of the game.

"In our days we didn't have to deal with this stuff because we could say pretty much what we wanted and get away with it. It is a bit of a learning curve for me with all of these rules and regulations that have come in," he said.

"Not talking with the coach's cap on, you don't want to take all the aggression out of the game.

"You've got two countries playing hard cricket against each other. In a heated situation, guys are trying really hard and sometimes their emotions overflow.

"From that side maybe with the rules and regulations I'm a little bit disappointed in that, but if you know the rules and regulations then you've got to stick to them.

"I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. We only found out after the day's play that KG was getting called in.

"There have been quite a few things happening in world cricket at the moment. We saw it in the last game where sides are going for a win and pushing really hard.

"England had been in the field for a long time and the swear words weren't great, but it's aggression and, like I said, in our day we'd push really hard and try make batters feel uncomfortable if we were on top.

"The laws have changed so I understand where the ICC want to go with it, but hopefully they find a balance that doesn't take the emotion out of the game. I still think there is a very big part for that in the game of cricket."

Boucher was referring to the on-field sledging from English wicketkeeper Jos Buttler that was directed towards Vernon Philander in the second Test at Newlands. 

Boucher also acknowledged the need to ensure that Rabada does not overstep on the disciplinary front moving forward.

"It's a tough one. KG probably bowls at his best when he's nice and aggressive, so it's probably trying to find a balance of keeping him nice and aggressive and not boxing him in," he said.

"It's understanding the laws of the game and trying to stay on the good side of it and not just on the flip side of it. It is going to be tough, but it is something that we're going to have to address.

"KG is a team man, so he will feel very disappointed as well."

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