South Africa premier pacer Kagiso Rabada has been given green signal to play the third Test in Cape Town after successfully winning the case which he imposed against the two-match suspension on him for making contact with Australia skipper Steve Smith. Initially charged with a Level 2 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct for making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with Smith on Day 1 of the Port Elizabeth Test, Rabada has instead been found guilty of conduct that was against the spirit of the game.
Now, Rabada’s three demerit point penalty has been reduced to one demerit point, taking his total to seven and allowing him to continue to play in the rest of the series. Judicial Commissioner Mike Heron QC could not find enough evidence to concluded that Kagiso made deliberate contact with Smith.
While giving the verdict, Heron said, “The key issue is whether Mr. Rabada made ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact’ with Mr. Smith. I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr. Rabada intended to make contact and me, therefore, find him not guilty of the charge under 2.2.7.”
He further elaborated, “I am entitled, however, to consider whether the conduct involved constitutes a lower level offence. I consider the conduct was inappropriate, lacked respect for his fellow player and involved non-deliberate and minor contact. The actions contravened the principle that a dismissed batsman should be left alone. “I consider a penalty of the imposition of a fine of 25 per cent of the applicable match fee to be the appropriate penalty for the breach of Article 2.1.1. As a consequence, 1 demerit point accrues.”
Giving Kagiso a warning for any further breaches, Heron said, “Mr. Rabada will be well aware of the consequences of any further breaches of the code.”
Rabada, Proteas team manager Dr Mohammad Mossajee and a legal team led by high-profile lawyer Dali Mpofu argued the KG’s sincerity in a huge six-hour hearing on Monday with Heron via video conference. The verdict is a huge sigh of relief for South Africa, who have regained the services of the world’s No.1 Test bowler and the speedster who ripped apart Australia in the second Test at Port Elizabeth with match figures of 11/150.
Also read: Vernon Philander’s controversial tweet
However, now that Rabada is on seven points, one small mistake here and there and he will get suspended for up to two Tests or four ODIs/T20Is, whichever comes first. It’s been 11 days of chaos for Rabada, who brushed shoulders with Smith after dismissing the touring skipper in the afternoon session on day one of the second Test.
The six-hour hearing ended in Cape Town around 3:15pm on Monday before Rabada made his way to Cape Town to train with his teammates ahead of Thursday’s crucial third Test with the series locked at one-all.