Steve Smith was involved in the infamous incident in the second Test against South Africa which resulted in Kagiso Rabada getting a two-Test suspension.
That decision, however, was later overturned following appeal. This, Smith believes, has set a troubling standard and precedent for the game.
He also suggested that Cricket Australia will reconsider their policy of not challenging charges handed out by ICC match referees in the aftermath of the incident.
Surprised with the outcome of the appeal, Smith questioned why he was not made part of the appeal process, considering he was the player who was brushed past by Rabada on the opening day of the second Test.
“The ICC have set the standard, haven’t they? There was clearly contact out in the middle,” Smith said in Cape Town ahead of Thursday’s third Test.
“I certainly won’t be telling my bowlers to go out there and after you take a wicket go and get in their space. I don’t think that is on and part of the game.
“I certainly think he bumped me a little bit harder than it actually looked on the footage. It didn’t bother me too much. I guess the emotion after you get out you don’t really he’s won the battle.
What’s the point of over-celebrating? And getting in the face of a batter, you’ve already won the battle. But they’ve obviously decided what’s deliberate contact and what’s not, and apparently it wasn’t.”
In the recent past, Australia have only challenged a sanction once – ironically for a contact between Mitchell Johnson and Ben Stokes where incidentally Jeff Crowe was the presiding official. He then dropped the charges against both players.
However, Smith felt the Rabada appeal had legitimised physical contact between two players and getting away with it.
“You always want your best players available to play so maybe, particularly now that we know people can get off, that’s for sure. That’s a possibility in the future,” Smith said.
“They obviously appealed this one and it looked like a pretty long process in the courtroom. But if you see guys getting off then perhaps guys will appeal a bit more in the future to try and get off certain things.”
Smith expressed surprise at not being asked to come in for his version of events in the hearing. He also lauded Crowe for the way he’s handled the situations in a hotly contested four-match series which sits evenly poised at 1-1.
“The other person involved not getting asked about it is pretty interesting, I thought,” Smith said. “You still want to come up against the best players.
That’s part of playing the game and Kagiso is No.1 in the world. It was interesting the way things played out and that he was able to get the charge brought down with an appeal.”
“The way he handled both sides throughout the two Test matches, I thought he did a terrific job,” Smith said of Crowe. “I’d be feeling a bit annoyed if I was him, to be perfectly honest.
A new match referee coming in so he wanted to have a chat with the senior players so myself, Davey [David Warner] and Nathan Lyon. I think he’s going to chat to Faf [du Plessis], AB [de Villiers] and Hashim [Amla] as well. Just to ensure that the series is continued to be played in pretty good spirit.
“I thought it was pretty good last game, after couple of isolated incidents in the first Test match and just to make sure cricket is still the winner.
I might have a chat to him around what’s gone on. Obviously they’ve deemed the contact not to be deliberate and set the line in the sand of what is appropriate and what’s not. We’ll see what he has to say.”
The third Test in the series begins on Thursday at Newlands where incoming match referee Andy Pycroft could have his hands full.