A respected South African journalist has made explosive claims about a conspiracy to ban Kagiso Rabada for the Proteas' Test series against Australia.
Rabada was sensationally cleared to play in the remainder of the Test series against Australia on Tuesday night (Australian time) after successfully appealing his Level 2 breach for deliberate physical contact.
Rabada, who has been highly influential in the two Tests so far, was originally given the charge for making physical contact with Australian captain Steve Smith during the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
However, veteran cricket expert Neil Manthorp - who has reported on and commentated cricket since 1987 - says there are issues between the original match report of the incident compared to the one released by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
"I have heard on pretty good authority that there appears to be a discrepancy between the report from match referee Jeff Crowe, which said initially that there was 'unnecessary and avoidable contact between Rabada and Smith,'" Manthorp said on South African radio.
"By the time it became public in the ICC statement it said that 'Rabada could have avoided unnecessary contact'.
"It seems the initial suggestion was shared responsibility and by the time the charges were laid it appeared to be all Rabada's responsibility."
CSA's appeal focused on previously unseen footage that exonerates Rabada from blame, as well as proof that the ICC's judicial system is flawed.
"The defence team have some new private footage hitherto unseen which they believe shows quite clearly that Rabada withdraws his shoulder at the last second before contact is made in an effort to avoid contact," Manthorpe added.
"There was a strong suggestion from the legal team that the judicial system implemented by the ICC is completely haphazard, totally subjective and inconsistent, and therefore any ruling can’t be upheld."
Rabada, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and team manager Mohammed Moosajee all gave evidence during proceedings, which Heron chaired via video conference.
Match referee Jeff Crowe, who found Rabada was responsible for making "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact" with Smith in Port Elizabeth, and umpires also gave their version of events.
"It's been a marathon session," Moosajee told reporters.
"In any hearing you've got to be as happy as you can be. We've put our side of the story across and now it's up to the judicial commissioner."
Proteas opener Dean Elgar downplayed the prospect of the circus serving as a distraction.
"We haven't even spoke about it since we got together today. We as players are trying to isolate ourselves away from that situation," Elgar said.
"It's out of our hands. Hopefully we can put this behind us an carry on playing cricket."
Australia's tour has been marred by altercations on and off the field, with David Warner's stairwell stoush with Quinton de Kock overshadowing the first Test in Durban.