South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has raised questions over the integrity of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) demerit system after Proteas speedster Kagiso Rabada was suspended for the remaining two Tests against Australia.
Rabada, who bowled South Africa to victory with 11 wickets in the second test in Port Elizabeth, was found guilty of the Level 2 offence for making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with Australia captain Steve Smith during the first day’s play. In the same Test match, the 22-year-old Rabada was also hit with a Level 1 offence for screaming in the face of David Warner having castled the Aussie opener in the second innings for just 13.
Rabada was given four demerit points and fined 65 percent of his match fee from the game at St George's Park after earning three points for making physical contact with Smith, while copping one point for giving a colourful send-off to Warner on day three.
"I think we're just going too far on the sensitive side, because every incident on the cameras is: 'Did you see that? Did you see that? Did you see that?' It's Test cricket. We as a team have got no issues with the way the Australian team play their brand of cricket. It's good for the game of Test cricket," du Plessis quoted by Cricbuzz as saying.
"People talk about where is the future of Test cricket. This, for me, is an important part of Test cricket - the battles that you face. That is KG [Rabada] running in for 15 overs trying to get someone out and eventually when he gets him out, he has to show that passion. Otherwise you could just put a bowling machine and a robot to bat," he added.
Faf cited Warner's case as an example, pointing out that the Australian vice-captain received the same number of demerit points for his stairwell altercation with South Africa skipper wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in Durban.
"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. 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 labeled 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. But that's where I'm sitting as a player, not as an official," du Plessis asserted.
While Rabada justified his shoulder contact with Smith, saying that it was accidental, du Plessis made a different point altogether.
"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," Faf said.
The South African captain has seemingly accepted the prospect of losing his most potent weapon in Rabada, who in 28 Tests already has already taken four 10-wicket hauls.
"Our strike rate is 0% at the moment with trying to challenge these cases. It will probably stay at 0% (after the Rabada case). I don't think there is a big turnover when it comes to (challenging) these things," du Plessis concluded.