Rabada's ban overturned, cleared to play in Cape Town

Kagiso Rabada celebrates a wicket with his team-mates Associated Press

Kagiso Rabada will play in the Cape Town Test after his two-match ban for making physical contact with Steven Smith was overturned by the ICC's code of conduct appeal commissioner Michael Heron.

After a hearing via video conference lasting more than six hours on Monday, in which Rabada's case was championed by the high-profile South African legal advocate Dali Mpofu, his level 2 charge for physical contact was downgraded to a level 1 charge for conduct contrary to spirit of the game, with a 25% match fee fine and 1 demerit point, instead of the three he had initially been given by the match referee Jeff Crowe.

This means Rabada's demerit points total dips below the threshold bringing an automatic ban, allowing him to play at Newlands. Rabada, the captain Faf du Plessis and the team manager Mohammed Moosajee all took part in the hearing.

"I think in any hearing you've got to be as happy as you can be," Moosajee said after the hearing. "We've put our side of the story across and now it's up to the judicial commissioner to make a stand on what he thinks."

The full judgment made by Heron, a notable New Zealand QC, is expected to be released by the ICC shortly, with Rabada to train with his team-mates at Newlands later on Tuesday.

"We've said it from the beginning...he needs to make sure he plans as if he's going to play," Moosajee said. "It would be fantastic. I think everyone wants to see him on the field."

In his judgment, Heron said that he was not satisfied that Rabada's physical contact with Smith matched the "inappropriate and deliberate" definition covered by the ICC code of conduct.

"The key issue is whether Mr Rabada made 'inappropriate and deliberate physical contact' with Mr Smith," Heron wrote. "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% 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."

The ICC chief executive David Richardson said that the governing body accepted the decision to overturn the ban and would not be appealing. "The ICC wholly accepts today's decision and I would like to thank Mr. Heron for overseeing the hearing in a short time frame before the next Test starts in South Africa," he said.

"This is perhaps an opportune moment to remind all players of their responsibilities to maintaining a standard of behaviour which sets a good example to players at all levels of the game, especially the young players. We want to see the game played with skill, passion and respect for the opposition, the match officials and the laws."

More to follow ...