CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith says his team will not be baiting South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada in the third test at Newlands on Thursday and adds that criticism of his role in the incident between the pair only spurs him on.
Rabada was initially suspended for two matches by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after brushing against the shoulder of Smith after dismissing the batsman in the six-wicket second test victory for South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
But the number one test bowler in the world had his sanction reduced on appeal and is now free to play in Cape Town, where he can add to his 15 wickets in the series so far.
“It’s not my place to make that judgment, it has been handed down now and it is what it is,” Smith told reporters when asked whether he thought the contact made by Rabada was deliberate.
“The contact was harder than it looked on the TV, but whether it was intentional or not, that is not for me to decide.”
The 28-year-old also believes it was not up to him to avoid the clash, as some critics have suggested.
“It was certainly fair for me to come to the other side of the wicket to speak to Shaun (Marsh). When you have got someone out, you have already won the battle so there is no need to go over the top,” he said.
“I read everything. It doesn’t bother me, I like to know what is going on. If people are having a go at me then I use that as motivation.”
Smith added the tourists would not be giving Rabada any special attention, with the fast bowler one demerit point short of having the two-match suspension reinstated.
“If he wants to carry on making mistakes, then so be it. He is a world class bowler, for us it is about negating the impact he has had in the first two games,” Smith said.
“We will play the game as we have always played it and just try go 2-1 up in the series.”
With no Australian having scored a century in the four-match series that stands level at 1-1, Smith urged his top-order batsmen to raise their performances.
“We haven’t had someone go on and score 100. If someone in the top four can go on and get a big score, that will set the game up for us,” he said.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge