Cape Town: Australia respect the decision to allow Kagiso Rabada to feature in the rest of the Test series and the South African fast bowler’s participation is “exciting”, Australia spinner Nathan Lyon said on Tuesday.
Rabada successfully appealed against an International Cricket Council sanction for brushing the shoulder of Australia captain Steve Smith in the second Test, getting his punishment reduced from three demerit points to one.
That means he remains under the threshold of eight in the last 24 months, freeing him to play in the remaining two matches of the acrimonious series, which is poised at 1-1, starting in Cape Town on Thursday.
“It’s exciting, as Australian cricketers we always want to play against best and he is the No. 1 bowler in the world, so it will be a challenge for all of us that have to bat,” Lyon told reporters.
“The ICC has made their decision and we respect it, that’s their job. It’s not for me to sit here and say whether it is right or wrong. We have two massive Test matches to come and we will have to play at our best to beat South Africa.”
Lyon said the Australians were only at 40 per cent in their six-wicket loss to South Africa in Port Elizabeth, which followed a comprehensive 118-run win for the touring side in Durban.
“We sat down and had a good debrief. If I am honest I thought we played at about 40 per cent in PE. Another 100 runs and it would have been a helluva Test match,” Lyon said.
“We will have a team meeting tonight to sit and discuss where we can better. The pitch is interesting, it looks a pretty good wicket. It’s a helluva series with two top teams going at it.”
Lyon had an excellent 2017 during which he took 63 wickets at an average of 23.55, but in this series each of his six dismissals have cost him close to 40 runs despite favourable conditions.
“I think I have played my role [in the series], but credit to South Africa, they have played me well on spinning wickets. I am just trying to hold up an end up and challenge these guys’ defences,” Lyon said.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh (groin) and seamer Mitchell Starc (calf) came through training on Tuesday after overcoming niggles and are available for selection.
Rabada and Cricket South Africa appealed that finding on the basis that he didn’t deliberately bump into Smith. The appeal was upheld after an independent judicial hearing in Cape Town on Monday.
“The key issue is whether Mr. Rabada made ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact’ with Mr. Smith,” said judicial officer Mike Heron, who heard the appeal. “I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr. Rabada intended to make contact and I therefore find him not guilty.”
Heron released his ruling on Tuesday.
For the Smith incident, Rabada was found guilty on a lesser charge but the punishment did not constitute a ban. He had already pleaded guilty to a second charge in Port Elizabeth, of shouting in Australia batsman David Warner’s face when he got him out. That also didn’t constitute enough demerit points for a ban.
While celebrating Smith’s wicket in the second Test, Rabada went down the pitch toward his teammates, bumping shoulders with Smith on the way. The contact was light, but the ICC recently brought in rules to stop any kind of physical contact between bowlers and batsmen in an effort to remove flashpoints in games.
“I consider the conduct was inappropriate, lacked respect for his fellow player and involved non-deliberate and minor contact,” Heron said in a statement Tuesday.