Suspended Rabada out of next 2 Tests
Calcutta/Port Elizabeth: Kagiso Rabada has been suspended for the remaining two Tests after the South Africa pacer was found guilty of a Level II ICC Code of Conduct offence of "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player."
The pacer was fined 50 per cent of his match fee and three demerit points after a disciplinary hearing following his denial of the charge. This came as a major blow to South Africa, taking quite a bit of sheen off their fantastic six-wicket series-levelling win in the second Test.
Rabada has accumulated eight demerit points within a 24-month period, automatically leading to a two-match suspension. The incident happened in the 52nd over of Australia's first innings of the second Test, when moving towards the slips, Rabada made contact with Australia captain Steve Smith with his shoulder.
Rabada accepted a second charge under 2.1.7 of the code - using language, actions or gestures which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his dismissal. He received a further 15 per cent fine of his match fee and an additional demerit point bringing his total to nine.
Meanwhile, Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has also been fined 20 per cent of his match fee and handed one demerit point for a Level I offence under 2.1.4 of the Code which pertains to "using language or gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting during an International Match." Marsh accepted the charge and no formal hearing was needed.
"I found that there was contact between Rabada and Smith, and in my judgement the contact by Rabada was inappropriate, and deliberate. He had the opportunity to avoid the contact and I could not see any evidence to support the argument that the contact was accidental.
"It is also disappointing that this has happened the day after the pre-match meeting I had with both teams, where the importance of respect for opponents was highlighted. I take no pleasure in seeing a player suspended, particularly a young player of Rabada's talent, but he has now breached the ICC Code of Conduct on a number of occasions," match referee Jeff Crowe said in a statement.
"It's going to have to stop," Rabada said later in Port Elizabeth. "I'm letting the team down and letting myself down as well."
Rabada said he would need to avoid getting into close proximity with opponents. "I won't change the way I express myself, but I will get far away from the batsman," he said.
The South Africa captain understands Rabada's emotional approach to the game and even offered his sympathy to the pacer. "If you look at the way KG plays the game, he is a competitive fast bowler and he works bloody hard.
"He runs in and he bowls quick for long periods of time and when he gets big wickets, that's celebration, energy and pure passion that he shows," Du Plessis said.
"These days, the attention has changed so much to what is allowed and what is not allowed, what is in the spirit of the game and what isn't. I just think that has changed so much over the last year or two that you're getting a lot more incidents happening than before."
Du Plessis, meanwhile, believes Test cricket is getting "too sensitive."
"People talk about where Test cricket is going. For me, the small battles are important. It's about Kagiso running in for 15 overs trying to get someone out and when he does, he has to show some sort of passion.
"The series has been too much about other stuff... It should be about the cricket on offer. There is a lot of off-field stuff that is taking the shine off," Du Plessis elaborated.