Kagiso Rabada verdict shows the Proteas paceman can swing just about anything

Will Knight Columnist

By Will Knight, Will Knight is a Roar Expert

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    Kagiso Rabada was just about unplayable in Port Elizabeth, but he was mesmerising in Cape Town.

    How did the South African speedster – or more accurately his legal team – manage to win what seemed like the unwinnable appeal to clear him to play in the third Test against Australia, starting on Thursday?

    Remember, Rabada said last week he took “responsibility for what happened” and needs to stop “letting the team down”.

    But Rabada is so hot right now he can swing just about anything.

    He deliberately changed his line to get in Steve Smith’s face as he celebrated the Australian captain’s dismissal in Port Elizabeth. That can’t be disputed, no matter which camera angle you wish to entertain.

    He got his angry eyes on and veered towards the Aussie skipper to give him an extra few decibels of send-off on the way past.

    The success of the appeal, which was led by high-profile barrister Dali Mpofu, relied on proving that Rabada didn’t make “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with Smith.

    Just about everyone – South African, Australian or otherwise – would agree that it was inappropriate.

    So was it deliberate? Well, change the direction in which you’re running and it’s logical that there’s a decent, if not overwhelming, level of intent.

    He wasn’t getting out of the road of a swooping bird, a plummeting Spider-Cam or an out-of-control drinks cart. He wanted to give it to Smith and his spray was as vigorous as one of his 145km/hr reverse-swinging thunderbolts.

    South Africa’s bowler Kagiso Rabada

    AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

    I don’t mind the quicks letting off some steam when they make a big breakthrough.

    Fast bowling can be a tough art. The pace spearheads invariably rely not just on their skill but also on bravado and swagger. They set the tone for combat. They tear in, often in draining heat and often on docile decks, trying to get everything out of their bodies to lead the way for their countries.

    The heart rate is up, the adrenaline is pumping. They’re like heavyweight boxers, not counting on subtlety and finesse, but power and ferocity.

    So it’s understandable that a quick like Rababa gets revved up after getting the world’s No.1 batsman out at a crucial stage of the second Test.

    But if you’re going to be that aggressor that lives on the edge of cricket’s laws and let it all out when you bag that big wicket – and it goes wrong – you’ve got to face the consequences.

    Rabada let off steam, he intentionally changed direction towards Smith and he made contact. Of course, it wasn’t a hit that would have the Stormers ready to offer him a Super Rugby contract.

    “The key issue is whether Mr Rabada made ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact’ with Mr Smith. I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr Rabada intended to make contact,” ICC’s code of conduct appeal commissioner Michael Heron said in his statement.

    “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.”

    Not “comfortably satisfied”? Amazing. Given all the directions that Rabada could’ve turned towards to celebrate and he chose the path closest to Smith. And then with a nice bit of late swing he caught the edge of Smith.

    Use Hot-Spot. Use Snicko. Use Rabada Follow-Through Tracking technology if you want. I’d stick with the original decision.

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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    The Crowd Says (185)

    • Roar Guru

      March 21st 2018 @ 10:54am
      spruce moose said | March 21st 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      This article is disappointing because we expect our journalists to go into bat for the institutions that are the bedrock of a social/liberal democracy. One of them being respect for the judicial process.

      Will, I suggest you take a leaf out of the book of the government, and indeed the other political parties that make up the parliament. The judiciary crushed the legislative body last year when it made it’s rulings on the citizenship cases (and may possibly do it again this year).

      Our prime minister, who was a big loser out of that, didn’t then pen an article railing on the high court, or verbally expressing his dismay with the decision or argue why the decision was “wrong”. He publicly stated his respect for the decision, respect for the institution and judicial process. It underpins our society.

      It’s very disappointing to read an article that now attacks a judiciary simply because you don’t agree with it’s decision.

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2018 @ 11:16am
        JamesH said | March 21st 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Sorry if it feels like I’m picking on your comments today Spruce (I enjoy debating with you!) but the author hasn’t disrespected the process/system at all. Nowhere does he criticise Rabada’s right to appeal or the process put in place to determine his guilt or innocence.

        What has been criticised is the decision handed down, which is very different. I strongly believe people (at least those without vested interests) should query what they believe are questionable judicial decisions because of the precedents such decisions can set.

        There was a recent Federal Court case about an application to have letters between the Queen and GG Kerr regarding Whitlam’s dismissal made public, and the court held that the letters were classified as ‘personal’ and therefore couldn’t be released. The ruling has copped some significant criticism – is that disrespectful?

        • Roar Guru

          March 21st 2018 @ 11:37am
          spruce moose said | March 21st 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          NO need to apologise. I’m enjoying the debate. To answer each paragraph:

          The bottom half of his article is him attempting to re-present arguments that have now been discredited. It’s not just disagreeing, it’s trying to force the issue.

          I strongly believe people (at least those without vested interests) should query what they believe are questionable judicial decisions because of the precedents such decisions can set.

          I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, neither Will, you or me are in a position to do such a thing. We don’t have the expertise to determine what is/isn’t questionable. We leave that in the hands of those trained. The QC in this case, is very well trained not only in law, but application in sport. If a sports lawyer, or someone with a history in sitting on sports judiciary panels penned an article disagreeing with it, then there is more gravity to the claim. Will simply doesn’t agree with it because it doesn’t agree with it.

          On the final paragraph, the significant criticism has come from people who wanted the letters to be made public and are angry they aren’t. And of that criticism (and I’ve read the particularly heated articles in the guardian) not one of them have argued that the court was legally wrong in making that decision. Their anger stems more from passion rather than reason – understandable, in the case of a historian. Anyway, they now have to rely on the prime minster requesting the Queen to release the letters – and this is one of the very rare few times the Queen can tell the PM to shove it, so I doubt he will risk it.

          Will Knight is trying to demonstrate why the judiciary was wrong with the reiteration of arguments that have now been disagreed with. He’s not presented anything new to the case.

          • Roar Guru

            March 21st 2018 @ 11:55am
            JamesH said | March 21st 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

            Fair enough. Will is hardly alone (among journalists, ex-cricketers or legal experts) in forming the view that Rabada was guilty but I guess we’ll have access to the final judgement in due course.

            (As an aside, the classification of the letters as ‘personal’ has been argued as flawed on the basis that the letters directly relate to an exercise of the Governor-General’s formal powers. That in itself is a sound enough legal reason to at least query the decision. There is a real stench of trying to protect HRM from public backlash over undue interference in the democratic process, but of course that part is only speculation.)

          • Roar Guru

            March 22nd 2018 @ 8:37am
            Chris Kettlewell said | March 22nd 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

            I don’t know about that. I think it’s a standard part of democratic society to question judgements handed down. It’s done all the time, and laws often get changed because of it. It’s not unusual to see judges hand down sentences that seem really weak for pretty serious offenses that cause lots of public backlash which either results in those verdicts being appealed by prosecutors, or governments changing laws to increase the minimum sentences the judges can give in those cases.

            In SA, the Oscar Pretorius case is a great example of that. Lots of people were outraged at the judgement handed down and the pretty light sentence he received that resulted in it being appealed and him getting a harsher sentence.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 2:57pm
        Connolly said | March 21st 2018 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        The writer seems to think that comfortably satisfied means an emotion state of the appeal body. It doesn’t it means a standard of proof. A standard which for good reason makes it very hard to prove an intention for a very serious cricketing offense. Maybe he should have researched the rule.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 12:44pm
      Ouch said | March 21st 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

      What’s done is done. Don’t agree with the decision personally.

    • Roar Guru

      March 21st 2018 @ 2:25pm
      Fox said | March 21st 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

      Look at the end of the day if Australia won the series without the opposition having he world’s best fast bowler who has been giving them headaches then it is shallow victory.

      This is better for the contest and the series and test cricket can well do without players being banned for what is really a petty offence – I mean a bit of push and shoving in rugby is fine – in cricket it’s a banning act. It is not like he decked the guy.

      Lighten up people and lets gets some mongrel back into the game for the damn sake of the game.

      That does not mean I condone personal verbal attacks that are below the belt or repeated pushing players around but a bit of nudge on occasion – which is all it really was – I mean seriously – harden up for pities sake. I batted once in game a few years back and had fielders nudging into me a couple of times as they walked past as things got a bit heated – seriously I didn’t give a toss and we all had beer later – but as soon as we put a camera on something and replay it 50 times it starts to become blown out of all proportion.

      A bit of nudge – Umpire says hey boys com’on enough of that – and let’s get the hell on with it. Yeah I know it is not his first offence but still to lose a player of his calibre when test cricket needs the best players on the park barring injury, is counter productive for test cricket right here and now.

      What seems to be the right decision is not always the best decision in the wider context and this is one of those times IMO

    • March 21st 2018 @ 2:54pm
      Blinder said | March 21st 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

      There is sledging, then there is acting like a man-child.
      Learn the art.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 3:26pm
      Johnno said | March 21st 2018 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

      My attitude is who cares, sport is a business and the TV networks need to make money so Rabada playing means more money for the tV networks and the ICC and fans will be happy and tune in as they will see a better more entertaining match. Sport is in the entertainment business and fans want entertaiment and the ICC$ and TV networks$ know it so they are happy Rabada is playing$.
      So to the cry babys about rabada now playing I say get over it and your hypocrites. You will be tuning in and watching the test match as you know he will help make a better contest. If you had true ideals you would boycott the test match in protest, but you wont you will be watching and helping contribute to the bank balance of the ICC$ and TV networks$.
      It was a love tap i’ve seen worse shoves in peak hour trains, i say put up pr shut up. If your so outraged by his little tickle on steve smith, boycott the test and don’t give the tv networks or ICC$ money. But you won’t coz your not that outraged and the ICC$ and TV networks know it. If anything all this Rabada drama, has given masses of free advertising to cricket which the icc$ and tV networks love. Oh and sport hasn’t got any integrity at the high level it’s about making money. Some of the same whingers here will all be tuning into the FIFA$ world cup and IOC$ olympics hardly beacons of integrity these sports bodies yet you’ll all be watching there events, hillarious..

      • Roar Rookie

        March 21st 2018 @ 6:16pm
        Pedro The Fisherman said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

        You do know that footy season (AFL) starts this Thursday?
        I wonder what the cricket ratings will be.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 3:28pm
      Mr Bowe said | March 21st 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

      Nice article Will.
      As soon as I heard that a NZ QC would be hearing the appeal, I knew that ‘the fix would be in’. However much NZ has stood side by side with us at Gallipoli and all the rest, they still delight in playing the spoiler – the unruly little brother revelling in the niggle. Remember the shameful Monkeygate decision by the impeccably qualified NZ judge in 2008 and a year or two later the obscure NZ administrator rounded up by ICC to ensure John Howard was not made ICC Chairman. And no doubt readers can recall other similar examples of perfidious NZ behaviour.
      But let’s relax about all this – the decision will surely make for better cricket in Cape Town and Johannesburg and will rob the Safas of an excuse if they go down.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 3:33pm
        Johnno said | March 21st 2018 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

        Um maybe you should think about that shameful underarm incident in cricket, that wasn’t in the spirit of cricket, the aussies exploited a loophole in the rules to win the match vs the kiwis, it wasn’t a freindly thing to do that underarm ball, it was an ultra competitive move to win the match it wasn’t freidnly it was a competittive move to win the game by excercising a loophole in the rules, it was a disgrace to cricket what aussies did that day to cricket and the kiwis, and the wold cricket world was in support of NZ not the aussies, so the aussies have done plenty of low blows to the kiwis over the years to…

        • March 21st 2018 @ 4:42pm
          Mr Bowe said | March 21st 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

          No doubt its hard to forget the underarm incident, even after 37 years. And no doubt some will still be upset about it in another 37 years time. But surely Greg Chappell’s decision, taken in the heat of battle, was of a completely different type to off the field decisions taken with the benefit of evidence, deliberation, assessments of causes and consequences, etc.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 4:13pm
        Johnny Boy said | March 21st 2018 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

        Am pretty sure Jeff Crowe is a kiwi, Mr Bowe.

        • March 21st 2018 @ 4:20pm
          Mr Bowe said | March 21st 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

          Yep – certainly is. But spent quite a few years playing for South Australia, so perhaps he forgot the script.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 21st 2018 @ 6:18pm
            Pedro The Fisherman said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

            Do you mean like that ex-Aussie (thank god) Mike Haysman? Is that a chip I see on his shoulder?

      • March 21st 2018 @ 9:45pm
        BrainsTrust said | March 21st 2018 @ 9:45pm | ! Report

        As far as good old Johnny Howard, in fact New Zealand was Australia’s main ally for Howard.
        Blaming them for that shows you know nothing about the affair.
        6 nations signed a document saying they wouldn’t consider him.NZ was not one of them.
        To make yourself an even bigger fool you mentioned Monkeygate.
        Well the NZ judge complained that the Australians and Indians had colluded tbecause they had presented him with a joint statement signed by the Indians and Australians Singh,Tendulkar,Symonds,Ponting and Hayden.
        Attack the Kiwis by all means , however you are the worst at it I have ever seen.

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