There has been a new twist in the tale of Kagiso Rabada’s story. The pacer as been cleared to play in the third Test against Australia this week after a judicial commissioner ruled there was no conclusive evidence that the South African fast bowler’s contact with Steve Smith in the 2nd Test was deliberate.
Rabada had been found guilty of a level two offence by match referee Jeff Crowe in the wake of the match, imposing a sanction of three demerit points that triggered a two-Test ban. However, Rabada appealed the verdict, arguing that the shoulder contact was accidental in an appeal hearing that lasted almost six hours.
His case was delivered by advocate Dali Mpofu and heard by judicial commissioner Michael Heron over a video call. Heron decided to overturn Crowe’s verdict and downgrade Rabada’s charge and sanction to a level one offence.
Although the fast bowler still picked up one demerit point and was fined 25% of his match fee, he will be able to play the third Test at Newlands on Thursday because his accumulated total of seven demerit points falls short of the eight-point mark that carries a ban.
Heron said in the summary of his verdict: “I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr Rabada intended to make contact and I therefore find him not guilty of the charge under 2.2.7. I am entitled, however, to consider whether the conduct involved constitutes a lower level offence. I consider the conduct was inappropriate, lacked respect for his fellow player and involved non-deliberate and minor contact. The actions contravened the principle that a dismissed batsman should be left alone.”
The verdict includes: “I consider a penalty of the imposition of a fine of 25% of the applicable match fee to be the appropriate penalty for the breach of Article 2.1.1. As a consequence, 1 demerit point accrues. Mr. Rabada will be well aware of the consequences of any further breaches of the code.”