Qantas Tour of South Africa
Rabada cleared to play third Test
South Africa pace sensation has two-Test ban overturned following marathon hearing
Sam Ferris in Cape Town
20 March 2018, 11:58 PM AEST
South Africa spearhead Kagiso Rabada will play in the third Test in Cape Town after successfully overturning a two-match suspension for making contact with Australia captain Steve Smith.
Initially charged with a Level 2 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct for making inappropriate and deliberate physical conduct with Smith on day one of the second Test, Rabada has instead been found guilty of conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game.
It means Rabada's three demerit point penalty from the original charge has been erased and replaced with one demerit point, taking his total to seven and allowing him to continue to play in the rest of the series.
Judicial Commissioner Mike Heron QC could not find enough evidence to suggest Rabada made deliberate contact with Smith.
"The key issue is whether Mr Rabada made 'inappropriate and deliberate physical contact' with Mr Smith," Heron said.
"I am not 'comfortably satisfied' that Mr Rabada intended to make contact and I therefore find him not guilty of the charge under 2.2.7.
"I am entitled, however, to consider whether the conduct involved constitutes a lower level offence. I consider the conduct was inappropriate, lacked respect for his fellow player and involved non-deliberate and minor contact. The actions contravened the principle that a dismissed batsman should be left alone.
"I consider a penalty of the imposition of a fine of 25 per cent of the applicable match fee to be the appropriate penalty for the breach of Article 2.1.1. As a consequence, 1 demerit point accrues.
"Mr. Rabada will be well aware of the consequences of any further breaches of the code."
Rabada, Proteas team manager Dr Mohammad Mossajee and a legal team led by high-profile barrister Dali Mpofu argued the 22-year-old's innocence in a marathon six-hour hearing on Monday with Heron via video conference.
The outcome is a monumental win for South Africa, who have regained the services of the world's No.1 Test bowler and the speedster who ripped apart Australia in the second Test at Port Elizabeth with match figures of 11-150.
However, now that Rabada is on seven points, he is just one minor indiscretion away from being suspended for up to two Tests or four ODIs/T20Is, whichever comes first.
It's been 11 days of chaos for Rabada, who brushed shoulders with Smith after dismissing the touring skipper in the afternoon session on day one of the second Test.
Rabada originally contested the Level 2 charge handed down by match referee Jeff Crowe but was knocked back, forcing the youngster and Cricket South Africa to appeal the decision to the ICC, which appointed Heron as Judicial Commissioner.
The six-hour hearing ended in Cape Town around 3:15pm on Monday before Rabada made his way to Newlands to train with his teammates ahead of Thursday's crucial third Test with the series locked at one-all.
Speaking to reporters on Monday while the hearing was taking place, Proteas opener Dean Elgar could not overstate the importance of Rabada's impact on the hosts and the five-day format.
"Having him in the side is massive for us," Elgar said. "I think it's massive for the game, it's massive for the format, because 'KG' is an extremely special cricketer.
"But we do know there are rules that are implemented for certain incidents in the game and we as cricketers respect that.
"If he's good to go for the third Test it would be awesome for us and awesome for the game."
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage