Rabada decision another source of SA-Australia rift

AP
Rabada was banned for intentionally bumping into Smith after he got the Australian skipper out in South Africa's series-leveling win in the second test in Port Elizabeth.
AP

BY questioning the judicial process that cleared South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada to play in the third test, Australia captain Steve Smith has provided another point of conflict in a combative cricket series.

Smith said in the lead-up to the third test in Cape Town that Rabada’s successful appeal against a two-test ban was “interesting,” and questioned why he, as the other person involved in the incident that led to Rabada’s ban, was not invited to give his side of the story at the judicial hearing.

“The other person involved not getting asked about it is pretty interesting, I thought,” he said.

Rabada was banned for intentionally bumping into Smith after he got the Australian skipper out in South Africa’s series-leveling win in the second test in Port Elizabeth.

Rabada and Cricket South Africa successfully appealed the verdict, arguing in a six-hour appeal hearing on Monday that the contact was not deliberate. Before the hearing, the South Africans themselves felt there was only a slim chance of success.

So the decision surprised everyone, especially Smith.

“I certainly think he bumped me a little bit harder than it actually looked on the footage,” Smith said. “I don’t think that is on and part of the game. But the standard has been set.”

South Africa, unsurprisingly, saw it differently.

“We believe that it is the right decision at the end of the day,” South Africa coach Ottis Gibson said. “He (Rabada) has been made aware of his on-field celebrations. I don’t want to say behavior because he is not a badly-behaved kid, he is just excitable and exuberant at times.”

Smith’s comments may again stoke the fires of an already-heated contest that boiled over in the first test in Durban with an ugly off-field confrontation between Australia’s David Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.

After calls for calm, the ill-feeling re-emerged straightaway in Port Elizabeth, with Rabada twice charged for inappropriate and aggressive wicket celebrations. He pleaded guilty to screaming in the face of Warner after he got the Australia opener out, and appealed the Smith shoulder bump verdict down to a lesser offense that cleared the way for him to play at Newlands this week.

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