Kagiso Rabada has appealed against his Level 2 sanction, which earned him three demerit points during the second Test between South Africa and Australia in Port Elizabeth, and could yet play in the third Test next week if his two-Test ban can be suspended during the appeal process.
Rabada was found guilty of making inappropriate and deliberate contact with Australian captain Steven Smith after dismissing him in the first innings. The pair brushed shoulders after Rabada yelled “yes, yes, yes,” in Smith’s face and then ran through to his team-mates.
The sanction took Rabada’s demerit points to eight, after he came into the Test on five points. Eight demerit points carries an equivalent of two suspension points, which is why Rabada was suspended from the rest of the series. He also earned a ninth point in the second innings when he gave David Warner a send-off. The next threshold of demerit points is 12, which would result in a minimum three-Test ban.
The ICC will now appoint a Judicial Commissioner “at the earliest opportunity”, according to a tweet from the organisation. The ICC’s code of conduct clause 126.96.36.199 states that a judicial commissioner must be appointed within 48 hours of receipt of a players’ notice to appeal and clause 188.8.131.52 states that a hearing must be held within seven days of the commissioner being appointed.
The time frame means that at the latest, a judicial commissioner will be appointed by this Friday. The hearing must then take place by next Friday, March 23. The third Test against Australia starts in Cape Town on Thursday March 22, which theoretically means Rabada cannot play in that match, because he remains suspended while the appeal is pending.
However, CSA can present an argument to the judicial commissioner to put Rabada’s suspension on hold while the appeal is pending and therefore allow him to play in the Newlands Test. Should Rabada succeed in his appeal, he could be available for the final Test of the series in Johannesburg at the end of the month.
However, his appeal also puts him at risk of an increased sanction as the judicial commissioner can “increase or decrease, amend or otherwise substitute a new decision on the appropriateness (or otherwise) of the sanction imposed at first instance,” according to clause 184.108.40.206 of the ICC’s code.
CSA are yet to confirm who is on Rabada’s legal team for the appeal but will issue confirmation shortly.
Meanwhile, South Africa are yet to announce a squad for the remaining two Tests in the series but it is expected they will add a bowler as cover for Rabada. Morne Morkel, who is in the squad and did not play the second Test, is expected to slot back in, but Chris Morris may come into contention.
Morris was left out of the original squad but took four wickets and scored a century for Titans in a first-class match at the beginning of the month. Duanne Olivier is another contender after claiming six wickets in a warm-up match against the touring Australians at the start of their tour.
However, Dale Steyn cannot be considered quite yet. Steyn has yet to play a competitive match after picking up a heel injury in the New Year’s Test against India at Newlands. He was due to play for the Titans against Cobras in a match that starts on Thursday but will now target next week’s fixture in a bid to be fit for the fourth Test in Johannesburg over Easter weekend.