CAPE TOWN – Kagiso Rabada has done it! The Proteas paceman won his appeal against a two-Test suspension on Tuesday and has been cleared to play the rest of the series against Australia.
Rabada was found guilty of a Level 2 breach of the ICC code of conduct by match referee Jeff Crowe following an altercation with Australian captain Steve Smith in the second Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
After dismissing Smith lbw, Rabada screamed in celebration as he walked in the direction of the batsmen, and the two players “made contact” with their shoulders, which led to Smith pointing that out to teammate Shaun Marsh.
Rabada, though, felt that it wasn’t a deliberate act, and Cricket South Africa appointed a high-profile lawyer in Advocate Dali Mpofu for the appeal, which lasted over six hours on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, independent judicial commissioner, Michael Heron QC from New Zealand, ruled that Rabada was not guilty of a Level 2 breach, but was guilty of conduct “contrary to the spirit of the game”.
That meant that instead of receiving three demerit points and a fine of 50% of his match fee, Rabada was handed one demerit point and a fine of 25%, which takes his overall tally to seven, and he is free to play in the third Test starting at Newlands on Thursday.
“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 I therefore find him not guilty of the charge under 2.2.7,” stated Heron in his findings.
“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% 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. Mr Rabada will be well aware of the consequences of any further breaches of the code.”
ICC chief executive Dave Richardson – himself a former South African Test wicket-keeper – said in a statement on Tuesday that the governing body “wholly accepts” Heron’s decision.
“The ICC wholly accepts today’s decision, and I would like to thank Mr Heron for overseeing the hearing in a short time frame before the next Test starts in South Africa,” Richardson said.
“This is perhaps an opportune moment to remind all players of their responsibilities to maintaining a standard of behaviour which sets a good example to players at all levels of the game, especially the young players.
“We want to see the game played with skill, passion and respect for the opposition, the match officials and the laws.”