James Anderson says he recognises the difficulties that Kagiso Rabada is having in controlling his on-field aggression, in the wake of his shoulder-barge on Steven Smith during the Port Elizabeth Test that led to a two-Test ban.
The ICC has announced that Rabada is appealing his ban, which was automatically triggered by his accumulation of eight ICC demerit points in the space of 24 months, for offences including an audible obscenity directed at Ben Stokes during last summer’s Lord’s Test, and “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella during an ODI in Cape Town.
But Anderson, whom Rabada recently replaced as the ICC’s No.1-ranked Test bowler, following his 11-wicket haul against Australia, has sympathy for his fellow paceman.
“There’s definitely got to be a place for emotion,” Anderson said. “I’ve certainly been there and done it, the thing is you have to control it the best you can. Sometimes it is hard, especially in the heat of the moment in a big series, if you get an important wicket.”
Anderson is himself no saint out in the middle. During the Ashes, he was singled out by Australia’s captain Steven Smith as “one of the biggest sledgers in the game”, and he was at it again today during England’s warm-up match in Hamilton, when the umpires had to step in after he offered a few choice words to Kyle Jamieson during his century.
However, unlike Rabada, Anderson has not yet been sanctioned by the ICC for his on-field behaviour, and he believes that there is a line that players should not cross, even if it can be hard to spot in the heat of the action.
“Of course there’s a line, bowlers do know what that line is but at times it’s such a strange feeling,” he said. “I’ve watched myself back and watched me take a wicket and seen how I’ve celebrated and think ‘what am I doing?’ It’s literally one of those things, the build-up of emotion where you are trying so hard to get a wicket and win a game and this emotion just comes out as a big release.
“It can feel like an out-of-body experience at times. I’m not excusing behaving badly on the field, I’m just saying I can understand what does happen to bowlers when they show that emotion. You see it with fielders, they can sometimes celebrate over the top but we are aware there’s a line, but you just hope as you can keep the emotion the check to stay the right side of the line.”