SA v Aus Rabada and Smith

Published on March 11th, 2018 | by Rohit Sankar


The spoilsport ICC rules that hamper the beauty of Test cricket

🕓 Reading time: 3 minutes

“Rabada is as fiery as they come in the fast bowling category. If a stare and a few words get him going, should the ICC really object, so long as it doesn’t get personal? By clamping down characters like Rabada and Warner, cricket is losing its essence”.

Let’s quickly revisit what the all-important Article 42.3.1 of players code of conduct section in the ICC rulebook says:

“Making inappropriate and deliberate contact with another player” is a level two offence.

Let’s ponder over the statement a bit. Making deliberate contact is an offence in this gentleman’s game. But what constitutes a deliberate contact?

Go over the Kagiso Rabada – Steven Smith video at Port Elizabeth post the Smith dismissal and you see that while Rabada does brush Smith’s shoulders, there is no attempt whatsoever from the Aussie skipper to get out of the way.

Now, why would Smith move? Rabada is on the verge of getting banned and Australia know that if any slight misbehaviour from the South African seamer is brought to the attention of the match referee, he could play no part in the remainder of the series.

Smith was seen talking to the umpire immediately after Rabada screamed at his face and brushed his shoulder after dismissing him.

The farce that the ICC rule is, means that Rabada would, in all likelihood, be banned for the next two games. After all the onfield umpires reported the brush to the match referee and the hearing is scheduled for later in the day.

Rabada has a rather queer history with such violations. Only last year he had received three demerit points for making “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with Niroshan Dickwella, though it was so bizarre that there was a complete outrage against the ICC.

The Protea seamer, like all great fast bowlers that ever walked the face of the earth, bowls best when fired up. The issue now is that, in cricket, you aren’t supposed to be fired up. The ICC rules are such that any over the top celebration is a risk of accumulating demerit points which could lead to a ban.

Imagine telling this to Curtly Ambrose or any of the West Indian great fast bowlers. The game is supposedly gentlemanly and hence such behaviour isn’t tolerated. But does that mean restricting a fast bowler’s rampant emotions after he has dismissed a batsman? Does the ICC expect intimidating fast bowlers to walk up to a batsman on a green mamba under cloudy skies and politely say ‘good morning’?

Hell, no! That wouldn’t draw the crowds. Test cricket is supposedly dying and you ask fast bowlers to wear a clamp on their mouths? Even more bizarre is the fact that an offensive word is an offensive one only if picked up on a stump microphone loud enough.

Rabada was as such unlucky in England when his send-off of Ben Stokes was loud enough. While this continues to happen, several others go unpunished despite muttering the very same send-offs away from the microphone.

Right when Test cricket needs fiery characters and enthralling encounters, ICC are putting a clip on some of the most promising battles. The Warner – de Kock saga went way beyond permissible lines with personal taunts but even then aside from the wife-sister jibes, such altercations do cricket no harm, particularly if it fires up the respective players.

“One other guy that actually gets involved is KG (Rabada) – he really does get stuck in. But I think after some of his last few incidents where he got into trouble – he got a ban and a fine and everything like that – he kind of has the handcuffs around him right now, which is a little unfair because if you look at the way some of the Aussies are going about it – and I’m not standing here and complaining, and I hope I don’t get a fine for saying that – but you kind of feel that you are taking out our best competitor, especially with that kind of presence. If you take him out of the game, it’s like taking a knife to a gunfight really. It’s a little bit unfair”, Steyn had commented a few days back.

Rabada is as fiery as they come in the fast bowling category. If a stare and a few words get him going, should the ICC really object, so long as it doesn’t get personal? By clamping down characters like Rabada and Warner, cricket is losing its essence. There isn’t the natural warcry between players that entice the battle between two teams. 10 team World Cups, farce player code of conduct rules, bizarre ball-tracking technologies…it is perhaps time to question ICC’s intentions of popularising the sport.

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About the Author


A cricket enthusiast striving to convey the finer details of the game in a capsule. I hope to present a bird's eye view of the game as I see it to the readers. PS: I am smitten by the likes of ABD but crush on pace bowlers who can make the ball talk.

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