AB de Villiers and Kagiso Rabada. Picture: ROGAN WARD/REUTERS
AB de Villiers and Kagiso Rabada. Picture: ROGAN WARD/REUTERS

Kagiso Rabada’s appeal hearing had dragged on for more than four hours when Dean Elgar sat down to talk to the media at Newlands on Monday.

Elgar had come to discuss the finer points of a series poised at 1-1 after SA’s rousing fightback to win the second Test at St George’s Park by six wickets. The series will resume in Cape Town on Thursday.

But Rabada’s hearing was uppermost. Except for Elgar.

"As players we don’t have influence over what has happened in the hearing or what could happen," he said.

"But it would be nice to put it behind us. There’s been so much noise and I think people have actually forgotten that there’s such a great series happening between two extremely strong and competitive teams.

"Whether KG [Rabada] is playing in the third Test or not, it’s out of our hands."

Rabada is challenging the three demerit points he earned — and with them a two-match ban — for making contact with Steve Smith’s shoulder during the second Test. It was one white-hot moment in an intense contest but it is taking hours of expensive hot air to parse the rights from the wrongs.

That is hardly surprising considering heavyweight lawyers such as Dali Mpofu — Rabada’s representative — are involved.

The case is being heard, via video, by Michael Heron, the queen’s counsel and former New Zealand solicitor-general.

Although Elgar seemed to take a dim view of the fuss around Rabada’s situation, he had praise for the fast bowler.

"Having him in the side is massive for us. It’s massive for the game. It’s massive for the format. Because KG is an extremely special cricketer."

He is. But best KG and everybody else learns to stay on the right side of the law in a series in which Rabada is the fifth player to be punished by match referee Jeff Crowe. And in just over eight days of cricket.

What has happened behind the scenes was sparked by events on the field, as Elgar tacitly acknowledged.

"There’s been a lot of niggle. It comes from both sides.

"But it’s what you expect when you’re playing against quality opposition. You expect that there’s going to be some niggle and a bit of words.

"The intensity should be there, that’s what makes this format very exciting. I’ve been on the receiving end but I’ve also given it out, in all the right measurements," he said.

Elgar’s hopes to "put it behind us" are likely to fall on deaf Australian ears. For that he can thank Vernon Philander.

Or whoever it was who, Philander claims, hacked his Twitter account to post: "Haven’t really seen the footage of this incident but by the looks of this… Steve Smith gave KG the shoulder. He could have avoided any contact but to me he is just as guilty. Trying some football skills to get a penalty? Pity he didn’t dive to top it off."

That is more than enough to keep the enmity between the teams burning brightly.

"If our banter is anything like it has gone this series I’m sure it will be brought up at some stage to get under someone’s nerves," Cameron Bancroft said on Monday. "That’s boys being boys playing cricket — who can hurt someone’s feelings the most?

"We saw the tweet. It was quite popular for a while. I don’t know if he wrote it or if his account was hacked or not. That’s his opinion, isn’t it, and he’s got to deal with the consequences of that now, not us."

Elgar had no doubt the streetwise Philander knew what was coming his way. "I think he’ll take it in his stride."

More than an hour after Elgar spoke, Rabada and the expensive lawyers wrapped things up. They have until Wednesday to reveal what all that talk — over six hours’ worth — has achieved.

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