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Kagiso Rabada causes a flutter on Kent debut, match halted due to excessive sunlight

Rabada committed a faux pas that even got his SA teammates talking, but made up emphatically with his Man of the Match bowling effort

Kagiso Rabada exults after bowling out Chris Nash

The Kent Spitfires vs Sussex Sharks Natwest T20 Blast match on Thursday was held up for almost half an hour because of too much sunlight, something that has been recorded in a cricket match only on the rarest occasion. This unusual disruption was not the only oddity in the match, however. Kent’s debutant Kagiso Rabada managed to commit a faux pas that has got even his South African teammates excited on the social media – he mistakenly wore his arm guard on the wrong arm (photos below).

Rabada put it down to ‘debut nerves’ at the end of the match, but the curious sight of him walking out to bat with a guard on his left arm took almost everybody but him by surprise. The 21-year-old bowls with his right hand and bats with his left, and this ambidexterity is what might have led to him making this mistake.

As he faced England and Royal Challengers Bangalore bowler Chris Jordan steaming in, he was doing so with his front arm exposed, and his left hand, facing wicketkeeper Craig Cachopa, protected. It is not known at what exact moment Rabada realised his mistake, but he luckily did not need to face more than one ball, which he somehow fended away and earned a leg bye.

Rabada endeared himself to Kent fans, not only with this innocent mistake but also with his Man of the Match bowling performance. He took two wickets and bowled the last over in which Sussex fell short by 10 runs. This is a precious win for Kent, who rise above Hampshire from the bottom of the South Group table as a result.

Rabada’s arm guard misplaced, but bowling arm as fine as ever

Batting first, Kent finished their innings at 166/6, the bulk of the scoring having been done by Tom Latham and Joe Denly, whose club record opening stand of 97 put their team at a position of early ascendancy. Rabada and Alex Blake (36* off 22) were at the crease at the end of the 20 overs.

The chase began in absurd fashion for Sussex, with batsman Luke Wright raising his hands for play to stop after the second ball of the second over. Apparently, sunlight was reflecting off one of the buildings near the stadium and was blinding the batsmen. Play was halted for 17 minutes, to let the sun set. The irony of the situation was not lost on Kent, who have lost 1216 overs this season in all formats because of bad weather – never due to excessive sunlight.

Rabada struck on his 11th delivery, aiming in a 95 kph yorker to bowl over Chris Nash. There was a further 10-minute stoppage after Wright complained off light reflecting off Sky Sports’ commentary box at the other end. Six balls after the resumption, Rabada cleaned up Wright too.

Ross Taylor (49 off 32 balls) launched a rescue effort towards the end, but Matt Machan and Craig Cachopa who followed could not adapt to the double-paced nature of the pitch as well. Rabada executed a perfect 20th over, in which Sussex would have required 23 runs to win.

As rare as they are, cricket interruptions due to excessive sunlight have happened before. In 1995, iconic umpire Dickie Bird had possibly scripted history by calling an England vs West Indies Test to a stop because a greenhouse close to the Old Trafford Stadium was reflecting too much light for play to continue. A 1996 ODI match in Pakistan against New Zealand is recorded to have been reduced to 46 overs per side due to the rising sun shining in the batsmen's eyes at the start of the match.

A more recent county game at Derbyshire is recorded to have been stopped for an hour because the light at the time of sunset was so blinding that nothing could be seen. Such interruptions seem to occur because of faulty scheduling or ill-designed stadiums.

This is how Twitter reacted to Rabada’ star turn (Hashim Amla and Rory Kleinveldt were among those who could not have enough of Rabada’s arm guard faux pas) – 

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