ICC accused of double standards ahead of Kagiso Rabada hearing
Cape Town: The International Cricket Council has been accused of double standards on the eve of Kagiso Rabada's appeal hearing after two Bangladesh players received only minor sanctions over an incident in a mach against Sri Lanka in which the two teams nearly came to blows.
Rabada's appeal, presided over by New Zealander Michael Heron QC, will be heard on Monday by video conference, and one of South Africa's arguments when it comes to defending their fast bowling spearhead is that the ICC penalty system lacks consistency.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis – once fined 50 per cent of a Test match fee for wearing green shoelaces instead of white – has questioned how Rabada could receive three demerit points for a "shirt flick" with Steve Smith, the same number as David Warner was been issued with for an altercation with Quinton de Kock in which he had to be dragged away by teammates.
The ugly scenes at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo in a tri-nations Twenty20 match have further added to their contention that Rabada's punishment was out of step with those meted out for other breaches of the players' code of conduct.
"Getting one demerit point and losing 25% of the match fee for what happened yesterday, #BANvsSL, is like getting a pat on the back," Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle posted on social media after the ICC charged Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan and substitute fielder Nurul Hasan with level-one offences on the weekend.
"I hope Rabada doesn't see what happened. This was as close to a punch-up as you will see. Very mystifying."
Getting one demerit point and losing 25% of the match fee for what happened yesterday, #BANvsSL, is like getting a pat on the back. I hope Rabada doesn't see what happened. This was as close to a punch-up as you will see. Very mystifying.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 17, 2018
Tempers had flared in the final over the T20 international when Sri Lanka's Isuru Udana bowled two bouncers around the height of the batsman's head. The second was called a no-ball, only for the umpire to then change his mind.
On on the boundary, Shakib, complaining about the umpire's decision, sensationally gestured to his batsmen to walk off the field.
Nurul, running the drinks for Bangladesh batsmen Mahmudullah and Rubel Hossain, became involved in a heated confrontation with Sri Lankan captain Thisara Perera.
"Had the fourth umpire not stopped Shakib and the fielders remonstrating, and then the on-field umpires not intervened between Nurul and Thisara, things could have become worse," ICC match referee Chris Broad said.
Shakib pleaded guilty to a charge of "conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game" while Nurul was reprimanded for bringing the game into disrepute.
Rabada has an extensive rap sheet with five charges to his name over the past 13 months including a separate occasion in which he was found guilty of avoidable contact with a batsman in a match against Sri Lanka.
The 22-year-old has accepted responsibility for the brush with Smith, saying he should not have got into the Australian captain's space, but South Africa argue the severity of the penalty dished out to him was excessive.
"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," du Plessis said after the second Test.
"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."
Having also pleaded guilty to a level-one offence over a separate send-off he gave to Warner in Port Elizabeth, Rabada would need the charge against him for the contact with Smith thrown out on appeal, or the demerit points reduced from three to one, to avoid suspension.
The outcome of the hearing could well be a defining moment of the series against Australia, which is level at 1-1 with two matches to play at Newlands and the Wanderers.
Rabada's high-profile legal representative Dali Mpofu has given even greater weight to the appeal for South Africa as a country, believing it ‘‘has implications for our shared project of nation-building".
Heron, a former solicitor-general of New Zealand who also reviewed the All Blacks' failed 2007 World Cup campaign, will have 48 hours to announce his decision.
Rabada, as a result, may not find out until a day before the third Test starts on Thursday whether or not he is playing.