New SA v Oz match referee lays down the law

Jeff Crowe (Getty Images)
Jeff Crowe (Getty Images)

Cape Town - New Zealand match referee Jeff Crowe, at the centre of the Kagiso Rabada 'shoulder brush' storm, will not feature in the remainder of the Test series between the Proteas and Australia.

SCORECARD: Proteas v Australia, 3rd Test

Crowe came in for widespread criticism after handing down a Level 2 charge against the Proteas speedster, which resulted in Rabada being banned for the remaining two Tests against the visiting Australians.

The incident in question?

A brushing of shoulders between Rabada and Australian skipper Steve Smith during the second Test at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth for which Rabada was slapped with sufficient demerit points to lead to a two-Test ban.

The Proteas lodged an appeal and Crowe's compatriot, judicial commissioner Michael Heron QC, downgraded the charge to one of Level 1 severity, meaning Rabada was free to be selected for the third Test at Newlands which started on Thursday morning.

As expected, the Proteas wasted no time in selecting their world No 1-ranked star, who has taken 135 wickets in his 28 Tests to date, at an average of 21.45.

Crowe played 39 Tests and 75 ODIs for New Zealand and has been a match referee since 2004.

READ: From Augusta to Newlands, Shane Warne is in town

As was planned pre-series, there has been a change of officials at the halfway point, and new match referee, Zimbabwe's Andy Pycroft, who will be in charge at Newlands and in the fourth Test at the Wanderers from March 30-April 3, has already sought out senior players from both teams to lay down the law.

Smith, David Warner and Nathan Lyon have met with Pycroft, as have South Africa's Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla.

Crowe has made the news for wrong reasons in the past, on not one, but two notable occasions.

In 2007 he was the referee during the Cricket World Cup final between Australia and Sri Lanka that ended in darkness in Barbados. He failed to tell the umpires that the game was over once both sides had faced 20 overs and by the time bad light came into play, Australia had won according to the D/L method. At that time, Crowe admitted to be confused about the rules.

Again during the 2011 World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium, Crowe found himself confused when the toss had to be redone. Crowe claimed he didn’t hear Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara call heads the first time the toss was held and insisted the toss be redone.

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