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)

    • March 21st 2018 @ 3:40pm
      Dave said | March 21st 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

      Seems to me there is a bit too much outrage over the reduction of Rabada’s sentence. As has been pointed out, he hasnt been let off, just no longer punished sufficiently to trigger a ban. There would seem to be enough doubt over whether the contact was intentional, even if he did change direction. While I wonder why it was reduced to one rather than two demerits, when you compare with Lyon’s one point for dropping the ball on ABD, it’s surely hard to demand a harsher penalty for Rabada? We in Australia need to be carefully of wishful thinking in the sense of wishing he had been rubbed out because it improves our team’s chances.

      Surely it’s better that Rabada plays – a series win without him would be hollow, and a drawn series, which otherwise might be seen as a pretty good outcome, in danger of looking like a loss. But I do wonder about the process – is it a good idea to have the decisions of an ICC ref, chosen presumably because of cricket experience and character, second guessed and overturned? Wouldn’t it be better to make their decisions final, as in football tribunals,rather than subject to challenge? Or at least, narrow the circumstances in which challenges can be made.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 4:36pm
        Mr Bowe said | March 21st 2018 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

        A good point Dave about making the decisions of ICC refs final, rather than having them subject to challenge through what seems to be legal review. There’s a lot to be said for leaving decisions about cricket matters in the hands of former cricketers rather than handing it over to the legal eagles. I assume ICC refs would have access to legal advice from ICC during their part of the process.

        • Roar Rookie

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

          I assume that Jeff Crowe will either be sacked or resign due to what has subsequently been determined to be incompetence as a match referee?
          I personally believe that he has made some good decisions (including this one) unlike others such as Chris Broad but his position is now untenable – surely!

          • Roar Rookie

            March 21st 2018 @ 6:58pm
            Matthew Pearce said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

            I think that would be quite an over-reaction. He had one call challenged and over-ruled by a legal eagle, for the subsequent sacking/resignation of an excellent match referee who has been in the job for nearly a decade and a half would be ludicrous.

            Although I see his Wikipedia page has already been subject to some fool using this to attack his career.

          • March 23rd 2018 @ 10:13am
            Connolly said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            You have just destroyed Jeff Crowe’s reputation with your praise. You agreed with his decision. Says it all really. He is incompetent.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 4:46pm
      AJ said | March 21st 2018 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

      Rules need changing to keep bowlers away from the dismissed batsman. Just a matter of time til someone loses it with a bat in their hands.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 21st 2018 @ 6:23pm
        Pedro The Fisherman said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

        I agree – it is only a matter of time until we have a serious incident on-field.
        Depending upon whom is involved (ie: which country) as to whether that will be seen by the silks as being avoidable, intentional or accidental.

        • March 21st 2018 @ 7:08pm
          Connolly said | March 21st 2018 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

          We have had two off field assault incidents and he culprit is still playing. It is absurd to conclude that correct application of the rule by the former Solicitor General of NZ and probably the leading sports lawyer in the world would encourage an on field assault. Look closer to home and ” first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” AKA Darren Lehmann AKAr Boff. Apparently

          • Roar Rookie

            March 21st 2018 @ 7:35pm
            Matthew Pearce said | March 21st 2018 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

            For all the smack you’re giving plenty of others here, you’re being particularly obtuse about this.

            A) Warner has only been involved in one incident that can be called assault. Unless you can summon your precious QC and change that, that’s the plain fact.

            B) It happened outside of any cricketing context, and was thus outside of the ICC’s jurisdiction. CA immediately gave him a punishment, which he served.

            C) Warner’s actual track record of punishable incidents is significantly lower than people make out, and prior to this series he had a clean slate under the relevant ICC code of conduct timeline.

            I’m sure even a “former cricketer who ran a holiday business” (as you so eagerly disrespected Crowe with) would be able to comprehend these facts quite easily.

            • March 21st 2018 @ 9:10pm
              bigbaz said | March 21st 2018 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

              And it seems that the former solicitor general of NZ didn’t see fit to interview S Smith re the incident. S Smith incidentally also runs round as the Aussie captain and like it or not commands the respect of his office. I don’t believe he has ever run a holiday camp.

            • March 23rd 2018 @ 10:22am
              Connolly said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

              Once again. The definition of an assault is NOT confined to physical contact. It is putting the victim in fear of an imminent physical contact. Warner did that in the stair well.. So he has had two assaults. Warner is a professional cricketer and his assaults happened within the field of his employment as a professional cricketer. Look up the definition of bringing the game into disrepute. His assaults occurred on fellow professional cricketers. You keep referring to a “track record”. If you mean his points accumulation then you are right. He is a moderately misbehaved cricketer. Which is a travesty and a clear indication that the structure and the application of the rules is defective. If you are referring to what he actually did he is the worst abuser and bully in cricket. Perhaps the view of Crowe’s late brother is closer to the mark. He called out his “thuggish” behaviour. Jeff Crowe has no legal training or understanding of the rule. He clearly didn’t understand the level of evidence required to find against Rabada. The whole purpose of the appeal process is to bring legal experience and judgement to the rules. Something the Australian captain either doesn’t understand or wilfully chose to ignore.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 8:29pm
      Big Daddy said | March 21st 2018 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

      Never has been so much written about so little.
      The cheap seat judges are out in abundance.

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2018 @ 11:00pm
        Corne Van Vuuren said | March 21st 2018 @ 11:00pm | ! Report

        Yup

      • March 21st 2018 @ 11:56pm
        Doctor Rotcod said | March 21st 2018 @ 11:56pm | ! Report

        Sanctimonious claptrap from both sides of the “debate”.
        Stick to the facts.During an acrimonious send-off, there was a light shoulder contact by the bowler,who was moving, with the batsman who was almost stationary.
        The bowler,who is a habitual ,egregious, offender,should have realised that he was about to contact the batsman,said”excuse me” and used his natural agility to avoid said contact.
        The batsman,who is also agile,should have turned his shoulder,said”watch out,cobber” and nothing would have happened..
        Instead ,in the devious way of all Australian sportsmen,he made sure of contact,because he knew that the bowler was close to suspension and Crowe would fall for the trick
        A QC,no SCs in NZ?would not have been needed,the bowler would again teeter on the edge of suspension and the rightful state of affairs,involving almost the best fast bowlers in the world would move smoothly along

        • March 23rd 2018 @ 10:32am
          Connolly said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          Smith’s disgraceful whinging after the appeal decision would tend to confirm your analysis of his act. He wanted to be called to give evidence. That could have been interesting. Cross examined by one of South Africa’s leading lawyers. Smith would have been like Daniel going back into the lions den to get his hat.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 9:27pm
      Swannies said | March 21st 2018 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

      Storm in a tea cup. Let him play and get on with the game.

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