CAPE TOWN – Steve Smith has made dramatic U-turn in relation to the demerit points hovering over fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s head.
Prior to this ill-tempered Test series, Smith indicated that his team may try to provoke a reaction from the Proteas spearhead given he was on the knife’s edge of suspension.
It seemed Rabada may have taken the bait when he brushed Smith’s shoulder after dismissing the Australian captain in the second Test at St George’s Park, with the 22-year-old being handed a two-match suspension.
However, Rabada’s suspension was overturned this week after Cricket South Africa’s appeal was successful, with the Level 2 charge being lowered to Level 1. This means Rabada is free to play in the third Test at Newlands starting today, but is still within one demerit point of being banned again.
Smith has now switched the focus back to the Proteas after the home team’s skipper Faf du Plessis admitted his team might also use the tactic to lure David Warner into committing an offence.
“No, not at all. If he wants to carry on and make mistakes then so be it, but we’re just going to play the game as we’ve played it and hopefully try and go 2-1 up in this series,” Smith said, before turning his attention to Du Plessis.
“I saw Faf mention before the last Test that they may try and bait him (Warner), so if they want to play like that then go for it, but we certainly won’t be doing the same thing with Rabada.
“Obviously both now are one indiscretion away from a ban, but we won’t be playing like that.
“For us it’s about playing the game the way we’ve always played it. We’ll speak out in the middle, but we won’t do anything in a way to antagonise him to make mistakes.”
Although Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed the tourists had “no dramas” with the Rabada verdict, Smith was much more critical.
“I certainly think he (Rabada) bumped me a little bit harder than it actually looked on the footage,” Smith told reporters at Newlands. “It didn’t bother me too much. I guess the emotion after you get out you don’t really. He’s won the battle.
“What’s the point of over celebrating? And getting in the face of a batter, you’ve already won the battle.
“But they’ve obviously decided what deliberate contact is and what’s not and apparently it wasn’t.”