Kagiso Rabada suspension: Merits and demerits of the case

Kagiso Rabada was suspended for two Tests after he was found guilty of deliberately making inappropriate contact with Australian captain Steve Smith in the second Test.

Written by Sriram Veera | Updated: March 14, 2018 9:13:42 am
kagiso rabada, rabada fine, rabada suspension, south africa vs australia, cricket news, icc suspension, icc rules, sports news Kagiso Rabada has been suspended for two Test matches. (Source: Reuters)

Kagiso Rabada was suspended for two Tests after he was found guilty of deliberately making inappropriate contact with Australian captain Steve Smith in the second Test. He was charged with a Level 2 breach of ICC code of conduct, fined 50% of match fee, and given three demerit points that took his total to eight, which meant a two-Test ban.

What did Steve Smith say before the Test series about Rabada?
Smith talks about the Australian plan to get Rabada fired up. “It could perhaps be a plan to try and get him fired up. You never know what some guys do when they’re fired up. He’s obviously a quality bowler and a big player for them. You don’t want to see guys getting suspended or anything like that, you want to come up against the best, but you never know,” he told cricket.com.au. Echoing Smith’s thoughts, the coach Darren Lehmann had added that “He’s a fiery character so we’ll just play it as we see it.”

It enraged former Australian captain Ian Chappell, who said: “How stupid is it, when I read before the Test that the Australians might bait Kagiso Rabada because he’s close to being suspended? Surely if you’re the officials and you see that, you call the coach and captain in the day before the game and explain it won’t be tolerated…”

What was Rabada’s demeanour in the first Test?
If you believe Dale Steyn, Rabada wasn’t getting stuck into the Aussies because of the threat of demerit points against him. “I think after some of his last few incidents where he got into trouble — he got a ban and a fine and everything like that — he kind of has the handcuffs around him right now, which is a little unfair because if you look at the way some of the Aussies are going about it … you kind of feel that you are taking out our best competitor, especially with that kind of presence, if you take him out of the game, it’s like taking a knife to a gunfight really. It’s a little bit unfair,” Steyn told South African radio station KFM.

What did Rabada do in the first Test before the Smith incident?
When David Warner had to be held back by his own team-mates in the stairwell incident where he raged against Quinton de Kock, Rabada stepped out of the dressing room, along with his captain. He doesn’t say a word, but just stands there and stares, ready to step in if needed. The Smith incident happened in the next Test.

What was the Smith-Rabada incident?
Rabada gets Smith’s wicket and both find themselves in each other’s way. Rabada is seen flexing his shoulders, head down, and letting a celebratory scream of “Yes Yes Yes”. At this point, there is still some distance between the two. He then repeats the shouting act second time and now he is real close to Smith. Even as he is still screaming, Rabada seems to be getting away from Smith when his shoulder just about brushes Smith. For his part, Smith immediately suggests that he was shoulder-barged, signalling it through a shoulder gesture of his own.

What did Rabada say about it?
“I didn’t even feel contact in that moment because I was so pumped up,” Rabada said. “The reason why we went for a hearing [on the Smith charge] was because we believe that there’s not a lot of consistency. If I knew I did it deliberately, I wouldn’t have gone to contest.

How does the demerit points work?
It was introduced to punish repeat offenders. The ICC Code of Conduct details four levels of offences, with varying number of demerit points attached to them.1-2 demerit points for level 1 offence, 3-4 demerit points for level 2 offence, 5-6 for level 3, and 7-8 for level 4. Demerit Points will remain on a player’s disciplinary record for 24 months from their imposition following which they shall be immediately expunged. If a player gets four demerit points within 24 months, he gets a one Test or two limited over game ban. If he gets 8 points within 24 months, the ban will double.

Now that Rabada has been banned, will the demerit points be reset?
No it wouldn’t. The points stay for 24 months. It’s a system designed to punish repeat-offenders. It also prevents misuse: If a player knew that he was just a demerit point away from getting suspended for a Test, he could choose an insignificant game and commit a foul so that he just gets banned for that game. But now, since the points are not reset despite the ban, he won’t do it.

ALSO READ | Kagiso Rabada picks up second disciplinary charge in Port Elizabeth

What they said?
“It looked like they were both walking in the same direction. From a series perspective, you hope he doesn’t get a ban.” – Graeme Smith, on how he saw it.

“I don’t know. We have seen so many different things of late. Some guys getting banned for one thing, other guys getting away with it.” Steve Smith, on whether Rabada deserved to be punished.

When people behave like that, you just wonder, why, why is that necessary?” – Michael Holding, a mentor of sorts of Rabada.

“If you take it on face value, it’s not good to look at. When you’ve dismissed a batsman and you’re just screaming in their face.I don’t take too much notice of the contact. The problem was screaming at Steven Smith on the way out — after all the problems with general chat and sledging in this series.” – Allan Border, on how he saw it.

“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” – Jeff Crowe, match referee.

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