Smith critical of Rabada’s successful appeal

Australia captain Steven Smith has declared that the Kagiso Rabada appeal verdict sets a troubling standard for allowable physical contact in the game. He also indicated that Australia’s long-time policy of not contesting the charges of ICC match referees may well change after South Africa’s successful legal challenge.
Clearly surprised by the outcome, Smith questioned why he had not been asked for his version of events as the other party in the incident, for which the match referee Jeff Crowe had found Rabada guilty of making “inappropriate and deliberate” physical contact with the batsman after dismissing him on day one of the Port Elizabeth Test. Either way, Smith said a precedent had been set.
“The ICC have set the standard, haven’t they? There was clearly contact out in the middle,” Smith said in Cape Town ahead of Thursday’s third Test. “I certainly won’t be telling my bowlers to go out there and after you take a wicket go and get in their space. I don’t think that is on and part of the game.
“I certainly think he bumped me a little bit harder than it actually looked on the footage. It didn’t bother me too much. I guess the emotion after you get out you don’t really he’s won the battle. What’s the point of over-celebrating? And getting in the face of a batter, you’ve already won the battle. But they’ve obviously decided what’s deliberate contact and what’s not, and apparently it wasn’t.”
Since 2011, Australia have only once asked for a hearing to contest a sanction, ironically for physical contact between Mitchell Johnson and Ben Stokes when Crowe was also presiding as match referee, and chose to drop the charges against both players for their mid-pitch collision during the 2013 Adelaide Test. However, Smith said the Rabada case had changed the landscape considerably, both in terms of allowing physical contact and opening up the possibility of further challenges.
“You always want your best players available to play so maybe, particularly now that we know people can get off, that’s for sure. That’s a possibility in the future,” Smith said. “They obviously appealed this one and it looked like a pretty long process in the courtroom. But if you see guys getting off then perhaps guys will appeal a bit more in the future to try and get off certain things.”
“I think we’ve played in a pretty good spirit the last game and again it’s about continuing to play our hard, aggressive brand and making sure we stay within the parameters of the game.”
Looking at the code of conduct process, Smith said he was mystified as to why he was never called to give his account of the confrontation.
“The other person involved not getting asked about it is pretty interesting, I thought,” Smith said. “You still want to come up against the best players. That’s part of playing the game and Kagiso is No.1 in the world. It was interesting the way things played out and that he was able to get the charge brought down with an appeal.”
South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis was at the hearing and said it was a fair process, before quipping that “I wish I had this judge with me in Australia,” in reference to his previous unsuccessful appeal of a ball-tampering charge in 2016 and the New Zealand QC Michael Heron, who overturned Rabada’s ban. “I think it’s really good for the game, I don’t see a problem where a neutral guy sits and makes a decision and listens to both parties.
“I was there and said to our people that even if we didn’t win the case I was very impressed with the judge and how he listened to both sides. He was very fair in the questions he asked. I think the process is good. You should have a platform if you feel you haven’t done something wrong, and have someone who sits in the middle and has a fair, objective point of view of listening to both sides and making a decision. “