Proteas coach Ottis Gibson on Tuesday described the differing levels of punishment initially handed down by the International Cricket Council on Kagiso Rabada and Steven Smith, the Australian captain, and team-mate Cameron Bancroft as “weird”.
Rabada was initially suspended from the last two Tests of the series after he received three demerit-points for brushing shoulders with Smith in the second Test in Port Elizabeth, which was enough to take him over the threshold for a two-match ban.
South Africa appealed the punishment and the charge was downgraded, with just one demerit point added to the fast bowler’s record.
Smith, who admitted to pre-planning the Newlands ball-tampering fiasco, only received a one-Test ban, while Bancroft was only given three demerit points, meaning he is still available to play the final Test at the Wanderers.
“KG just brushed shoulders with Smith and was going to be banned for two games, which is different to Smith. For something so trivial up against something so serious, the punishments just don’t seem to match. It’s a bit weird and the ICC must look at the process,” Gibson said in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“I have been surprised at how big it has become, but at the end of the day when you see such a deliberate act like we saw on TV, then people will become very interested in it, especially the way it was planned. Steve Smith said it was planned by a few of them and that makes it a bigger topic for people to talk about.
“Cricket Australia is a hundred-year-old organisation, they’ve also been the envy of the world in terms of winning World Cups and they’ve produced great teams and great players for a long time. So to have something like this on their doorstep, those great teams and great players of the past will feel like their good name has been tarnished. People have a right to be upset about that.
“The Aussies have said it themselves that they have a win-at-all-costs attitude and with that mindset, perhaps desperation came into it because they were never behind in the Ashes but here they have been. But it’s a shame that this had to happen for them to look at that policy,” Gibson added.
Although South Africa have now won two Tests in a row, the coach hinted that the same team that triumphed so spectacularly at Newlands will not necessarily play at the Wanderers.
“We’ve made a bowling change every game and with a three-man pace attack it’s nice to be able to freshen up one guy like that. But Morne Morkel is still very fresh. A guy like Wiaan Mulder is improving all the time and it’s his home ground in Johannesburg. We could need an all-rounder and a fourth bowling option, but we’ll look at the conditions and choose the best combination to win the Test,” Gibson said.