Sport Cricket The gloves are off as Test sides seek a mental edge

The gloves are off as Test sides seek a mental edge

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· What we learned: Second Test post-mortem

Australia and South Africa are probing each other for mental weakness ahead of Saturday’s deciding Test in Cape Town.

Proteas’ star batsman Hashim Amla says his side has the momentum after a massive win at Port Elizabeth however outspoken Aussie opener David Warner says he wants umpires to clarify the legality of South Africa’s scuffing of the ball.

Amla noted it was too early to predict what sort of pitch would be prepared for the series decider at Newlands, but said his side headed to Cape Town with confidence.

“Newlands has been a happy ground for the Proteas over the last few years, but the Aussies are a good team,” he said.

“Without a doubt, winning the second Test gives you a bit more momentum – a bit more confidence in the team; guys got hundreds and guys bowled well.

The Proteas unleashed a reverse-swing masterclass in the second Test at Port Elizabeth, inflicting a collapse of 9-62 en route to a series-levelling victory on day four.

As opposed to using the shine of a new ball, reverse-swing relies on one side of the ball being more rough. Rubbing the ball on the ground, or picking at it with a fingernail or other sharp objects is outlawed under the ICC’s ball-tampering laws.

“We were actually questioning whether or not (South African wicketkeeper) AB de Villiers would get the ball in his hand and with his glove wipe the rough side every ball,” Warner told Sky Sports Radio.

“That’s another thing we have to try and bring up with the umpires.”

Hardly anyone takes anything David Warner says serious.

Proteas’ team manager Mohammed Moosagee was furious with Warner’s comments, which come ahead of the series-deciding clash at Newlands (Cape Town) starting on Saturday and four months after the Proteas were embroiled in a ball-tampering saga.

“David Warner’s remarks are disappointing and discouraging. It takes the gloss off a great Proteas team performance,” Moosagee told South African newspaper DFA.

“It smacks of sour grapes and it could just be a tactical plan to get us involved in matters that will distract our attention from this crucial Test in Cape Town.

“Hardly anyone takes anything David Warner says serious.”

Moosagee said he would “leave it to the ICC to look into his remarks”.[polldaddy poll=7831298]

Graeme Smith, speaking after his side’s 231-run win in the second Test, suggested part-time spinners Dean Elgar and JP Duminy helped scuff the ball quickly.

“It certainly played a role for us,” Smith said of bringing Duminy on in the 13th over. One, in helping to get the ball reverse-swinging, and two just changing the game up.”

Smith would be furious with Warner’s allegations, which come four months after the Proteas were embroiled in a ball-tampering saga. Batsman Faf du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee in the Proteas’ nine-wicket win over Pakistan in Dubai for rubbing the ball near the zipper of his trouser pocket.

Match referee David Boon said the ball-tampering charge was warranted, but also that it “was not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball”.

South African paceman Dale Steyn’s bowling proved decisive in the second Test match. Photo: AAP

De Villiers, speaking prior to du Plessis’ sanction but after umpires Ian Gould and Rod Tucker hit South Africa with a five-run penalty during the match, was incredulous.

“We’re not a team that scratches the ball,” de Villiers said. “We play in a fair manner. We want to swing the ball as much as we can and try to get it to reverse.

“But we don’t cheat. I know Faf very well, he’s the last man to try anything like that.”

Warner also wanted officials to take a more strident approach to stop another controversial scuff strategy, which he admitted both teams used.

“I think it comes down to the umpires warning both teams not to throw the ball into the wicket which you generally try and do,” he said.

“They did it better than what we did, or a bit more obvious than what we did. At the end of the day it comes down to who can do that the best and work on the ball.”

Shane Watson bowled five overs in the nets on Monday to show he had recovered from a calf injury.

Watson is expected to return to the side at the expense of either Shaun Marsh or Alex Doolan.

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