Kagiso Rabada has conceded he should not have got into Steven Smith's space after dismissing him in the first innings of the Port Elizabeth Test, an action for which he is currently set to miss the remainder of the Test series. He insisted, however, he did not feel any contact when his shoulder brushed Smith's.
Rabada is appealing against his Level 2 sanction on Monday, with the hope of having three of his nine demerit points removed and allow him to play on; how this qualified acceptance of responsibility affects his defense only time will tell.
Asked at a sponsor function in Johannesburg whether he had been harshly treated, Rabada was equivocal and said he could see both sides of the argument.
"It's debatable. Some people think so, some people don't. I take responsibility for what happened. On the video, it looks like I got into the guy's space, so I shouldn't have done that. I'll say 50/50, it's my fault. I didn't feel anything in the moment."
Rabada, who expressed regret for his actions in the aftermath of the Test, said that he will rethink his celebrations in future. "I must obey the rules. I do things because I'm passionate. Sometimes, you are bowling against the best players. I guess I shouldn't really rub it into their faces. It's a case of still have the passion, but let the batsman be after I get him out."
In the interim, Rabada has reached out to several people, including his father, who have all advised him that he needs to calm down. "Anyone can give you advice on that - it's emotional, so your parents, a close friend, it's about managing your emotions and making sure that you follow the rules, not do anything stupid," he said. "It teaches you about yourself and how you react in certain situations, and what is a better way to react without losing anything. My father has given me advice, short and sweet, he told me to relax and talk with the ball."
Rabada said he would attempt to set a better example in future. "I guess incidents like these are not the best for children to see, because they can be portrayed or perceived in a bad way. It's to do things, still being yourself, but realising that people can perceive things in a different way."
Dale Steyn, who had told media after the first Test that the demerit points were hampering Rabada's aggression, said at the same function that Rabada's age and inexperience have all contributed to his actions, and that in time, he will likely rein it in.
"I did think he was a bit tame in the first Test, and felt the handcuffs of those demerit points sitting on him and not being able to say anything or perform the way that he likes to perform. It is going to be fine line going forward for KG.
"We also remember he is 22. We all make stupid mistakes when we're 22. It doesn't matter how many cricket matches he has played, how many wickets he takes. He is still 22. We can't be upset about that."
Steyn recalled the time his own indiscretion got him into trouble, and hoped Rabada will learn from his mistakes. "Maybe this needed to happen for him to learn a bit quicker. I did stupid things when I was younger. I spat in the direction of Sulieman Benn. I haven't done anything since. We all make these mistakes."