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Australia captain Steve Smith was less than impressed with the decision to overturn South Africa pace bowler Kagiso Rabada’s two-match ban.
Rabada was suspended for the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Australia for two separate incidents that occurred during the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
The first incident saw the 22-year-old make shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Australia skipper Steve Smith, while the second was for his celebration after dismissing opening batsman and vice-captain David Warner.
As a result, Rabada was fined 65 percent of his match fee and handed four demerit points.
Rabada only appealed against the incident with Smith, where he was fined 50 percent of his match fee and handed three demerit points.
After a hearing on Monday, which lasted over six hours, Michael Heron, the ICC’s judicial commissioner, opted to overturn the ban as he was “not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr Rabada intended to make contact”. As a result, Rabada was cleared to play in the third Test in Cape Town on Thursday.
Rabada’s Level 2 charge was downgraded to Level 1, and he was fined just 25 percent of his match fee and given one demerit point.
However, this has not gone down well with Smith, who was quoted by ESPNcricinfo as saying: “The ICC have set the standard, haven’t they? There was clearly contact out in the middle.
“I certainly won’t be telling my bowlers to go out there and after you take a wicket go and get in their space. I don’t think that is on and part of the game.
“I certainly think he bumped me a little bit harder than it actually looked on the footage. 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’s deliberate contact and what’s not, and apparently it wasn’t.”
In addition to voicing his concerns about the amount of contact that is permitted on the field, Smith also pointed out that the decision may raise the bar in regards to how much players can get away with.
“You always want your best players available to play so maybe, particularly now that we know people can get off, that’s for sure. That’s a possibility in the future,” Smith said. “They obviously appealed this one and it looked like a pretty long process in the courtroom. But if you see guys getting off then perhaps guys will appeal a bit more in the future to try and get off certain things.”
He added that he was perplexed that he wasn’t given the opportunity to tell his side of the story.
“The other person involved not getting asked about it is pretty interesting, I thought,” Smith said. “You still want to come up against the best players. That’s part of playing the game and Kagiso is No.1 in the world. It was interesting the way things played out and that he was able to get the charge brought down with an appeal.”
Smith also admitted that match referee Jeff Crowe had every right to feel “annoyed” that the ban he placed on Rabada had been overturned.
“The way he handled both sides throughout the two Test matches, I thought he did a terrific job,” Smith said of Crowe. “I’d be feeling a bit annoyed if I was him, to be perfectly honest.
“A new match referee coming in so he wanted to have a chat with the senior players so myself, Davey and Nathan Lyon. I think he’s going to chat to Faf [du Plessis], AB [de Villiers] and Hashim [Amla] as well. Just to ensure that the series is continued to be played in pretty good spirit.
“I thought it was pretty good last game, after couple of isolated incidents in the first Test match and just to make sure cricket is still the winner. I might have a chat to him around what’s gone on. Obviously they’ve deemed the contact not to be deliberate and set the line in the sand of what is appropriate and what’s not. We’ll see what he has to say.”
In regards to Vernon Philander’s “hacked” tweet, where he allegedly accused Smith of being responsible for the incident with Rabada, the Australian skipper said: “I think that’s a bit over the top. I was just going down to chat to Shaun [Marsh]. I had just been given out. So trying to see whether I could find a way to still be out in the middle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. I think that’s all a load of garbage to be honest.
“I think we’ve played in a pretty good spirit the last game and again it’s about continuing to play our hard, aggressive brand and making sure we stay within the parameters of the game. Hopefully, we can do that and get ourselves up 2-1 in the series.”