Australia’s nightmare and SA’s dream came true on Tuesday when Kagiso Rabada was cleared to play in the third Test at Newlands on Thursday.
Rabada had a ban for indiscipline overturned and will look to continue the demolition of Australia’s batting order he mounted in the second Test at St George’s Park‚ where he took 11/150 to help SA level the series.
But the fast bowler will have to be on his best behaviour‚ he will be banned again if he is guilty of even the slightest infraction of the code of conduct.
Rabada was given three demerit points by match referee Jeff Crowe at St George’s Park after he clipped Steve Smith’s shoulder with his own.
That took Rabada to the eight points and triggered the ban‚ but he appealed the decision and prominent advocate Dali Mpofu was appointed to fight the case.
“The key issue is whether Mr Rabada made ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact’ with Mr Smith‚” Michael Heron‚ the New Zealand queen’s counsel appointed to hear Rabada’s appeal‚ was quoted as saying in an International Cricket Council (ICC) release on Tuesday.
“I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr Rabada intended to make contact and I therefore find him not guilty of the charge under [code of conduct section] 2.2.7.”
Heron made his decision after a hearing of more than six hours on Monday.
But Rabada has not got away scot free‚ as Heron explained: “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.”
Accordingly‚ Heron imposed a fine of 25% of Rabada’s match fee and gave him a demerit point.
Rabada earned another point in Port Elizabeth for his verbal send-off of David Warner.
That means he now has seven points — one away from another ban‚ a fact that will no doubt have the Aussies wondering how to provoke him to have him removed from the equation for the fourth Test at the Wanderers on March 30.
“Mr Rabada will be well aware of the consequences of any further breaches of the code‚” Heron was quoted as saying.
To emphasise the point‚ the release quoted ICC CEO Dave Richardson as saying, “This is perhaps an opportune moment to remind all players of their responsibilities to maintaining a standard of behaviour which sets a good example to players at all levels of the game‚ especially the young players.
“We want to see the game played with skill‚ passion and respect for the opposition‚ the match officials and the laws.”