CAPE TOWN – Former Proteas fast bowler Allan Donald was among a number of ex-internationals to voice their support for Kagiso Rabada after the latter had his two-Test suspension overturned on Tuesday.
Rabada was set to miss the final two Tests of the gripping series against Australia at Newlands and Wanderers after “brushing shoulders” with visiting captain Steve Smith during the second Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
He was found guilty of making deliberate contact with Smith by ICC match referee Jeff Crowe, who gave him three demerit points – along with a fine of 50% of his match fee.
But on Tuesday, after an appeal hearing that lasted over six hours, independent judicial commissioner Michael Heron QC found instead that Rabada’s contact with Smith was not deliberate, and he lowered the sanction to one demerit point and a 25% fine.
The Proteas camp expressed their delight with the verdict afterwards, with coach Ottis Gibson stating that “it is the right decision at the end of the day”.
Donald, a fiery paceman who had memorable duels with the likes of Michael Atherton and Steve Waugh, was pleased to see Rabada cleared to lead the Proteas attack in the third Test at Newlands on Thursday, with the series locked at 1-1.
“@OfficialCSA So relieved @KagisoRabada25 won his appeal and is cleared to play,” Donald tweeted.
Another top-class fast bowler from the past, Vincent Barnes – who is the current Cricket South Africa high performance manager – said on Twitter: “Fantastic news. @KagisoRabada25 has been found not guilty of the charge and is cleared to play. Looking forward to seeing him charge in at Newlands.Come on @CapeTown let’s get behind the Protea boys. #SAvAus”
Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith echoed his ex-England counterpart Michael Vaughan, who tweeted: “Well done ICC .. Common sense prevails .. #Rabada”, while Herschelle Gibbs said: “Glad to hear kg is free to play.. #SAvAUS”
But there were a few dissenting voices, with former Australian bowler Damien Fleming posting an “astonished face” emoji on Twitter, while former England coach David Lloyd said: “Everything I hear from a match referee from now on in I will take with a pinch of salt ...total waste of time and money ...QC’s , Lawyers ??? What on earth is happening in cricket ?”