South Africa v Australia: Kagiso Rabada awaits fate over Steve Smith shoulder bump after six-hour hearing
Suspended spearhead Kagiso Rabada’s six-hour hearing is over but the wait for independent commissioner Michael Heron’s verdict continues.
- Kagiso Rabada made contact with Steve Smith’s shoulder while celebrating Australia captain’s dismissal in Port Elizabeth
- Rabada was given a two-Test suspension due to existing demerit points from previous misdeeds
- Morne Morkel primed to replace Rabada in Proteas’ pace attack for Cape Town Test
South African barrister Dali Mpofu, attempting to have Rabada’s two-Test ban overturned, argued on Monday that the express paceman did not deliberately make contact with Steve Smith’s shoulder during a send-off that marred the second Test.
Rabada, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and team manager Mohammed Moosajee all gave evidence during proceedings, which Heron chaired via video conference.
Match referee Jeff Crowe, who found Rabada was responsible for making “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with Smith in Port Elizabeth, and umpires also gave their version of events.
Heron now has up to 48 hours to settle on a decision, which the International Cricket Council (ICC) will communicate to both teams and the media.
It means the saga could drag on until Wednesday afternoon, with the third Test starting a day later at Newlands.
“It’s been a marathon session,” Moosajee told reporters.
“In any hearing you’ve got to be as happy as you can be. We’ve put our side of the story across and now it’s up to the judicial commissioner.”
Cricket Australia tweets: Will Proteas star Kagiso Rabada find himself in trouble for this incident on day one? #SAvAUS
Rabada, who will miss the rest of the four-Test series against Australia unless his charge is thrown out, was late to the Proteas’ training session on Monday because of the hearing.
The 22-year-old rolled his arm over at Newlands.
“We’ve said it from the beginning. He needs to make sure he plans as if he’s going to play,” Moosajee said.
“It would be fantastic [for the series], I think everyone wants to see him on the field.”
Proteas opener Dean Elgar downplayed the prospect of the circus serving as a distraction.
“We haven’t even spoken about it since we got together today. We as players are trying to isolate ourselves away from that situation,” Elgar said.
“It’s out of our hands. Hopefully we can put this behind us an carry on playing cricket.”
Kagiso Rabada will miss the remaining two Tests against Australia if his appeal is unsuccessful. (AP: Michael Sheehan)
Beanpole paceman Morne Morkel, who revealed last month he would retire at the end of the current series, is likely to take Rabada’s place in the XI should his appeal prove unsuccessful.
Elgar admitted losing Rabada would be a big blow.
“Having him in the side is massive for us,” he said.
“If he’s good to go for the third Test it would be awesome for us and awesome for the game.”
Australia opener Cameron Bancroft talked up the threat posed by Morkel but suggested Australia was prepared for the prospect of Rabada playing the third Test.
Rabada told reporters last week he takes “responsibility for what happened” and needs to stop “letting the team down”.
The right-armer was given a two-Test suspension because of his bad record, having accrued five demerit points from previous misdeeds.
“He had the opportunity to avoid the contact and I could not see any evidence to support the argument that the contact was accidental,” Crowe said in a statement after the second Test.
“It is also disappointing that this has happened the day after the pre-match meeting I had with both teams, where the importance of respect for opponents was highlighted.”