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Rabada cleared for Aussie Tests after shoulder barge appeal

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South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada was cleared to play the remaining two Tests against Australia after winning an appeal against his ban over an alleged shoulder barge on Tuesday. The International Cricket Council said Rabada had been found not guilty of making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with Australian captain Steve Smith during the second Test in Port Elizabeth last week.

Judicial commissioner Michael Heron of New Zealand found Rabada guilty of the lesser charge of conduct contrary to the spirit of the game following an appeal hearing on Monday. Heron reduced Rabada’s penalty from three demerit points to one, and reduced his fine from 50 percent to 25 percent of his match fee. Rabada’s total of demerit points was therefore reduced from nine to seven, one short of the threshold for an automatic two-Test ban.

The ICC announcement said Rabada was free to play which means he will take his place in the South African team for the third Test against Australia starting at Newlands on Thursday. But Rabada’s cumulative points tally means that any further disciplinary action could result in a ban. Heron said the key issue was whether Rabada made deliberate contact with Smith.

“I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr. Rabada intended to make contact,” Heron said in an ICC statement. “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.”

Rabada’s ban was among the low points of a bad-tempered series, in which Australia’s David Warner and South African Quinton de Kock were fined over a confrontation during the first Test. Before the four-Test series resumes, with the teams locked at 1-1, South Africa opening bat Dean Elgar acknowledged: “There has been a lot of needle. “It comes from both sides and it’s what you expect when you are playing against quality opposition. The intensity should be there. I think that’s what makes this (Test) format very much exciting.”

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