Sat, 04 Jul 2020

Kagiso Rabada is working on channelling his on-field aggression for the Proteas more positively.

His one-match suspension last season led to renewed debate over whether he's being caged by authorities or actually being irresponsible.

The classy quick will make changes with people he trusts, not because the broader public demands it.

Kagiso Rabada insists outside influences won't determine his fiery on-field behaviour for the Proteas in future.

The national team's bowling kingpin had a "disappointing" international season soured further after he was suspended for the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers in January for accumulating too many ICC demerit points.

Rabada had received the sanction for celebrating the wicket of Joe Root, the English skipper, after he ran up to him and screamed in delight while squatting during the previous Test in Port Elizabeth.

It was hardly as serious as the infamous "shoulder-bump" with Australian star Steve Smith in 2018, but led to significant debate again on whether the 25-year-old quick was being punished by the world governing body for sheer spontaneity or actually being irresponsible.

Given that there's not much clarity on the issue, it's little wonder Rabada isn't exactly having sleepless nights over how he should be behaving.

"I think it's just my passion (for playing cricket for my country) that comes through," he said.

"Everyone has their opinion on this matter and they're entitled to it. I have identified the things I need to work on and I'll address them with the people that are closest to me and who I feel should be helping me."

In other words, a few comments on social media from Joe Public isn't going to suddenly prompt Rabada to box himself in.

"You're always going to be criticised by people," he said.

"It's important that you don't take certain things that people say to heart. You'll always have a lot of critics, who don't agree with what you do. As long as you're true to yourself, that's the most important thing. Then you can grow."

Naturally, it's heartening that Rabada mentions growth as it suggests that he's nonetheless committed to finding the golden middle way between staying true to himself and not leaving a gaping hole in a national team that now requires his fire and class more than ever.

But it shouldn't come at the expense of what makes him special as an international cricketer.

"Your branding as a professional athlete is all about being yourself. The South African sporting market is quite conservative, so it's important for a person to learn who he or she is, but also realise there are other considerations too."

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