SA v Aus Rabada suspension

Published on March 14th, 2018 | by Sandipan Banerjee

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Rabada’s suspension will take the sheen-off the series

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“Yes, we understand that ICC wants the game to be played in the right spirit. But we need individuals like the Kohlis, the Warners and the Rabadas who inject a lot of passion in the game. We don’t want the sport to be a dull one where players are just a bunch of well-behaved machines”.

With Kagiso Rabada out, the ongoing South Africa-Australia series is bound to lose a fair bit of aggressive flavour which was evident in both on and off the field during the first two Test matches. Though Rabada’s Man-of-the-Match performance (11 for 150) helped the Proteas win the second Test by six wickets and drew level in the series at St George’s Par, but he also picked up two demerit points for ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a player’ and that eventually ruled him out from the rest of the series.

However, Rabada continues to claim that the body contact was unintentional, but the match-referee Jeff Crowe did not buy that argument as he found the South African pacer guilty of the offence.

“I found that there was contact between Rabada and Smith, and in my judgement, the contact by Rabada was inappropriate and deliberate. He had the opportunity to avoid the contact, and I could not see any evidence to support the argument that the contact was accidental,” Crowe was quoted saying in an official press release by ICC.

Whether intentional or not, but this incident has once again questioned the integrity of ICC’s demerit system.

This particular system was put in place in September 2016 in order to improve player behaviour on the field. However, there are people who believe the application method of this system is a bit rigid in nature as it does not take the context into consideration.

Someone like Faf du Plessis who has often raised his voice against this demerit system has an opinion that there are a lot of grey areas in this system and those are needed to be addressed. According to him, going by this law, certain action on the field fall under a specific level of charge with particular punishments, which leave match referees with no room for flexibility.

Well, the ongoing South Africa-Australia Test series is the greatest testament to that.

David Warner’s stairwell outburst in Durban was a level 2 offence and it fetched the Aussie batsman three demerit points, same as Rabada. However, from a lineman’s perspective, Waner’s behaviour seemed far more demeaning to the game, compared to the Rabada-Smith incident, which was more of a heat of the moment reaction.

“The charge against KG is a level 2 with three demerit points, and the charge against Davey is a level two with three demerit points,” du Plessis recently told media. “For me, if you look at those incidents, one is brushing of the shirt, the other is a lot more aggressive. My question was: why are both these incidents labelled the same? For me, they are not. The contact [between Rabada and Smith] was very minimal, it was a shirt flick of two players and you would get one or two demerit points as a slap on the wrist because it wasn’t full body contact.”

The South African skipper has further raised another crucial point.

“For me, it’s just about looking at the context of the series, and it’s crucial that you have the best players playing. For us, it’s about proving that what KG did… they call it body contact, we would say it is a shirt being brushed or it was not deliberate. As the match referee mentioned, there are bigger things at play here, that’s why he didn’t ban Davey Warner and make it a level three offence because it’s a series between two big teams. I just asked the same question.”

A very pertinent question, isn’t it?

Yes, we understand that ICC wants the game to be played in the right spirit. But we need individuals like the Kohlis, the Warners and the Rabadas who inject a lot of passion in the game. We don’t want the sport to be a dull one where players are just a bunch of well-behaved machines. But, again, there has to be a balance between animated competitiveness and inappropriate gesture and the match officials should be allowed to be more flexible while judging these delicate cases.

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About the Author

mm

is our guest writer. He is a cricket journalist by profession and admirer of this great sport by nature.



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