Match referee Jeff Crowe is expected to deliver his verdict on Monday after hearing Kagiso Rabada plead innocent to ‘shoulder charging’ Steve Smith.
The incident happened immediately after he dismissed the Australia captain in the first innings of the second Test, while screaming at the unfortunate batsman. Rabada says the brushing of shoulders was accidental.
The hearing on Sunday night spanned almost an hour. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and team manager Mohammed Moosajee were also present. If found guilty, Rabada could be banned for the next Test, or in a worst-case scenario, for the rest of the four-Test series.
The loss of Rabada will be profound: he has taken 12 wickets in the series so far, including 5-96 in the first innings of the second Test in a devastating spell which broke Australia’s batting lineup. More importantly, he has taken big wickets: David Warner twice, Shaun Marsh twice, Usman Khawaja twice and Steve Smith – seriously destabilising their top-order batting lineup.
His absence would pave the way for a return of Morne Morkel, or Dale Steyn, who has yet to prove his fitness after coming back from a heel injury.
Roll of dishonour
February 2017: Shoulder shove on Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella in an ODI: 50% match fee fine and three demerit points
July 2017: Swearing at England all-rounder Ben Stokes after dismissing him in the second Test: 15% match fee fine and one demerit point; banned from the third Test.
February 2018: Waving ‘goodbye’ and swearing at India’s Shikhar Dhawan during an ODI at St George’s Park: 15% match fee fine and one demerit point.
Demerit points stay on a player’s record for a period of 24 months, even after serving a ban.
To add insult to injury, Rabada has been reported for a level one offence for the send-off given to David Warner during the third day of the Port Elizabeth Test.
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