Rabada in danger of missing series after ICC charge
Kagiso Rabada is out of the remainder of the Test series against Australia unless he can overturn a level two charge for physical contact with the touring captain Steven Smith on day one in Port Elizabeth.
The on-field umpires Chris Gaffaney and Kumar Dharmasena charged Rabada with making physical contact with Smith, but South Africa have indicated they will contest the charge on the basis that contact was accidental. Rabada has already accumulated five demerit points and stands to earn three more, which would amount to two suspension points and a two-Test ban. The match referee Jeff Crowe will hold a hearing after play on day three of the Test.
Rabada had found reverse swing shortly before tea and angled a length ball in at a shuffling Smith, who was struck on the back pad in front of middle stump. Smith was given out by Dharmasena and, in celebration, Rabada continued in his follow-through, shouting "Yes, yes," in Smith's direction. With Smith directly in his line of movement, Rabada's shoulder made contact with that of the Australian captain.
Smith reviewed but began walking as soon as replays showed where he had been hit. Rabada went on to take four more wickets, claiming five in the space of 18 balls, either side of the tea interval, to scythe through Australia's middle order. He also had a small word with Mitchell Starc, the last of the five wickets to fall.
Rabada's rap sheet dates back to February last year, when he picked up three demerit points and a 50% match fee fine after a shoulder shove to Sri Lanka's Niroshan Dickwella in an ODI. He then earned a another demerit point in July, when he swore at Ben Stokes after dismissing him at Lord's during the first Test between South Africa and England. Rabada missed the second Test at Trent Bridge as a result; four demerit points lead to a ban of one Test or two limited-overs games, whichever comes first, while eight demerit points result in double the penalty. Each demerit point stays on a player's record for a period of 24 months, staying active even after the four-point threshold is broken.
This year, Rabada added a fifth point to his name when he gave Shikhar Dhawan a send-off during an ODI at St George's Park last month. Replays showed Rabada waving goodbye to Dhawan and then telling him to "f*** off".
While the punishment for both his verbal transgressions amounted to only one demerit point, physical contact, which is deemed inappropriate and deliberate, falls under a Level 2 offence. If found guilty of such a charge, a minimum of three demerit points are applied. That would take Rabada to eight, which would mean he misses the rest of the Australia series.
This series has already been marred by three instances of players committing code of conduct offences. Lyon was fined 15% of his match fee and received one demerit point for dropping a ball close to AB de Villiers when he was run out in Durban, Warner was fined 75% of his match fee and earned three demerit points for his role in the stairwell saga that has dominated headlines between Tests, and de Kock was fined 25% of his match fee and earned one demerit point for his part in the same.