Steve Smith accused of milking infamous Kagiso Rabada contact, Faf du Plessis autobiography
Former South African captain Faf du Plessis has accused Steve Smith of “milking” his infamous on-field contact with Proteas seamer Kagiso Rabada, which dominated the headlines in 2018.
Before the Test series became embroiled in a ball-tampering saga, Rabada found himself in hot water for his post-wicket celebrations after dismissing Smith in the second Test at St George’s Park.
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After catching Smith on the pads for 25 in Port Elizabeth, Rabada roared in the Australian captain’s direction before the pair brushed shoulders.
Smith immediately spun around, indicating to teammate Shaun Marsh that there was contact before asking for a review, which was unsuccessful.
After the incident, a provocative message was posted to Vernon Philander’s Twitter account: “Haven’t actually seen the footage of this incident but by the looks of it…Steve Smith gave KG the shoulder. He could have avoided any contact, but to me he is just as guilty. Trying some soccer skills to get a penalty??? Too bad he didn’t dive to top it.”
Philander later claimed that his Twitter account was hacked.
Because Rabada was a repeat offender, the International Cricket Council handed down a two-match suspension that would have ruled him out for the remainder of the series.
But the South African became one of the first players to overturn an ICC ban after a six-hour appeal hearing, finishing as the highest wicket-taker with 23 scalps at 19.26 in four Tests, later named player of the series.
“I don’t want to change the way I express myself,” Rabada said at the time.
“I just want to get far away from the batter.”
After Rabada’s suspension was overturned, Smith claimed the ICC had set a precedent for on-field contact going forward.
He aired his grievances with reporters ahead of the third Test in Cape Town, voicing his concern at how the appeals process was unfolding.
“I certainly don’t think I baited Kagiso in any way. That’s how I felt anyway, he told reporters at the time.
“The contact was more difficult than it actually looked on the TV. Whether it was on purpose or not is not up to me to decide.
“I think when you get somebody out, you’ve already won the game. There is no need to go over the top. I went down the other end of the wicket, I certainly didn’t change line or anything.
“The ICC has set the standard, haven’t they? There was clear contact out in the middle. I’m certainly not going to tell my bowlers to go out there and after you take a wicket, go and go into their room. I don’t think it’s on and part of the game.”
Commenting on Philander’s tweet, Smith scoffed: “That was a bit over the top…it’s all a load of rubbish.”
Two years later, Rabada was suspended for one match for an overzealous celebration after dismissing England captain Joe Root in Port Elizabeth.
It was the South African quick’s fourth breach of the guidelines in 24 months.
Earlier this summer, du Plessis addressed the incident in his autobiography Faf through fire,
reopening old wounds ahead of South Africa’s first Test series against Australia since the ball-tampering saga.
The 38-year-old compared Smith to a footballer, suggesting the Australian exaggerated the severity of the collision.
“This episode has been almost forgotten in light of what the show still had up its sleeve, or more accurately, down its pants,” du Plessis wrote.
“They brushed shoulders during one of KG’s overs but Smith milked it like a footballer. We knew KG was one point away from a suspension.”
Talking to News Corp ahead of the first Test in Brisbane, Rabada refused to comment on his heated clash with Smith – before he retired, that is.
“What has happened has happened,” Rabada said.
“I’m not going to say anything now. After my career, I might talk a little more about it and look back at what happened. But for the moment, we move on.
“It was definitely a Test series I’ll never forget and things didn’t end too well off the field.”
The 2018 Test series in South Africa was marred by several well-documented on- and off-field scandals: David Warner’s dressing room confrontation with Quinton de Kock, Nathan Lyon’s tasteless run-out celebration and, of course, the sandpaper gate to Cape Town. scandal.
Almost five years later, Smith is adamant that there is no lingering animosity between the two nations.
“The cricket we’ve played in the last four-and-a-half years, we’ve played the right way, we’ve been tough and played in the right spirit,” Smith told reporters on Sunday.
“So for us nothing changes, we’re just going to continue to run our business and hopefully play good, entertaining cricket.”
South African captain Dean Elgar echoed Smith’s sentiments earlier this week, claiming the Proteas port has no hard feelings.
“It was a very tough time for all of us, even though we weren’t the guys who took the brunt of it all. But we were part of it, he told reporters.
“There were sad events but I have no animosity towards the players involved or CA. There were unfortunate scenes but that period has long passed and we have moved on.
“I wish things could have been a lot different. The history, when it comes to Test cricket between South Africa and Australia, is so rich. The competitiveness is very similar. We both want to go out and play a brand of cricket that our countries can be proud of. It was extremely juicy, even up to that game in Cape Town. Those were interesting times.”
The series opener between Australia and South Africa starts at the Gabba on Saturday, with first ball scheduled for 11.20am AEDT.