South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was unhappy with the ICC after it banned paceman Kagiso Rabada for the final two Test matches of a thrilling series against Australia.
Rabada was named the man of the match after claiming 11 wickets in South Africa’s comfortable second Test win in Port Elizabeth.
But the celebrations were short-lived for the Proteas, who levelled the series at 1-1, after they found out Rabada had been suspended following two incidents in this Test that sent his existing demerit points into the red zone.
The 22-year-old was found guilty of inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with Australia captain Steve Smith, having brushed against the batsman after he was dismissed, and was given three demerit points.
That was the same penalty given to David Warner for his ugly clash with Quinton de Kock during the first Test.
“If you look at both those incidents, one is brushing a shirt and the other one is a lot more aggressive,” du Plessis said.
“That was my question: why are both of these incidents labelled as exactly the same? Because for me, they’re not.
“You could say that the contact [from Rabada towards Smith] was very, very minimal.
It was a short flick of two players and you’d [hope to] get one or two demerit points as a slap on the wrist because it wasn’t full-body contact.”
Du Plessis said that cricket was only hurting itself by restricting how players could celebrate wickets.
“We’re just going too [far] on the sensitive side with everything,” he added.
“He [Rabada] has to show that passion, otherwise you can just put a bowling machine [on] and [make a] robot bat.
“We as a team have got no issues the way the Australian team play their brand of cricket.”
Match referee Jeff Crowe, who handed down the punishment, said Rabada could have avoided coming together with Smith.
“I found that there was contact between Rabada and Smith, and in my judgement, the contact by Rabada was inappropriate and deliberate,” he said.
“He had the opportunity to avoid the contact and I could not see any evident to support the argument that the contact was accidental.
“It is also disappointing that this has happened the day after the pre-match meeting I had with both teams, where the importance of respect for opponents was highlighted.”
‘I’m letting the team down’
Rabada insisted he needed to make changes to how he celebrated wickets or he would only hurt his nation.
“It’s going to have to stop,” he said. “I can’t keep doing this because I’m letting the team down and I’m also letting myself down … I have to move forward.
“[I need to] see it as a big learning curve and not repeat the same mistake … I’m not happy about it.
“I won’t change the way I express myself … I’ll just get far away from the batter.”
In another spiteful Test, Rabada was also found guilty of a level one misconduct offence when he gave Warner a send off in the second innings.
And Mitchell Marsh was guilty of the same offence after swearing at Rabada once he dismissed him on day four.
Both players were given one demerit point, with Marsh fined 20 per cent of his match fee and Rabada 15.
The three-Test series resumes in Cape Town on March 22.