“Having Rabada in the side is massive for us. It’s massive for the game. It’s massive for the format.” – Dean Elgar
TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
KAGISO Rabada’s appeal hearing had dragged on for more than four hours when Dean Elgar sat down to talk to the press at Newlands on Monday.
Elgar had come to discuss the finer points of a series poised at 1-1 after South Africa’s rousing fightback to win the second test at St George’s Park by six wickets — a series that will resume in Cape Town on Thursday.
But Rabada’s hearing was uppermost. Except for Elgar.
“As players who don’t have influence overs what has happened in the hearing or what could happen,” he said. “But it would be nice to put it behind us.
“There’s been so much noise and I think people have actually forgotten that there’s such a great series happening between two extremely strong and competitive teams.
“Whether ‘KG’ [Rabada] is playing in the third test or not, it’s out of our hands.”
Rabada is challenging the three demerit points he earned — and with them a two-match ban for an accumulation of eight points — for making contact with Steve Smith’s shoulder during the second test.
It was one white-hot moment in an intense contest but it’s taking hours of expensive hot air to parse the rights from the wrongs.
That’s hardly surprising considering heavyweight lawyers like Dali Mpofu — Rabada’s representative — are involved.
The case is being heard, with the help of video, by Michael Heron, queen’s counsel and former New Zealand solicitor general.
Although Elgar seemed to take a dim view of the fuss around Rabada’s situation, he had praise for the fast bowler.
“Having him in the side is massive for us. It’s massive for the game. It’s massive for the format. Because ‘KG’ is an extremely special cricketer.”
He is. But best ‘KG’ and everybody else learns to stay on the right side of the law in a series in which Rabada is the fifth player to be punished by match referee Jeff Crowe. And that in just more than eight days of cricket.
“It’s been a hectic last two weeks with everything that’s been happening behind the scenes, not even the actual cricket-related stuff which people are missing,” Elgar said.
But what’s happened behind the scenes has been sparked by events on the field, as Elgar tacitly acknowledged.
“There’s been a lot of niggle. It comes from both sides.
“But it’s what you expect when you’re playing against quality opposition. You expect that there’s going to be some niggle and a bit of words.
“The intensity should be there, that’s what makes this format very exciting.
“I’ve been on the receiving end but I’ve also given it out, in all the right measurements.”
Elgar’s hopes to “put it behind us” are likely to fall on deaf Australian ears.
For that he can thank Vernon Philander. Or whoever it was who, Philander claims, hacked his twitter account to post: “Haven’t really seen the footage of this incident but by the looks of this … Steve Smith gave ‘KG’ the shoulder.
“He could have avoided any contact but to me he is just as guilty. Trying some football skills to get a penalty? Pity he didn’t dive to top it off.”
That’s more than enough to keep the enmity between the teams burning brightly.
“If our banter is anything like it has gone this series I’m sure it will be brought up at some stage to get under someone’s nerves,” Cameron Bancroft said on Monday.
“That’s boys being boys playing cricket — who can hurt someone’s feelings the most?
“We saw the tweet. It was quite popular for a while. I don’t know if he wrote it or if his account was hacked or not.
“That’s his opinion, isn’t it, and he’s got to deal with the consequences of that now, not us.”
Elgar had no doubt the streetwise Philander knew what was coming his way, fairly or not.
“I think he’ll take it in his stride, like ‘Vern’ does. He’s quite a relaxed human being, but on the field he’s as competitive as anyone else.
“He’s got a set of skills that helps us out as a team and knowing Vernon I’m sure he’ll take it in his stride.
“I’m sure he’s going to expect that they’re going to come out and say something to him on the field.”
More than an hour after Elgar spoke, Rabada and the expensive lawyers wrapped things up.
They have until Wednesday to reveal what all that talk — almost six hours worth — has achieved.