Australia captain Steve Smith and South Africa counterpart Faf du Plessis confirmed “a lot of personal stuff” was being said between David Warner and Quinton de Kock before and during their ugly off-field clash during the first Test in Durban.
The revelations overshadowed the conclusion of the series opener, with the tourists needing just 22 balls on Monday to finish things off as Josh Hazlewood (3-61) trapped Proteas wicketkeeper de Kock lbw for 83 to seal a 118-run victory.
Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon was charged by the ICC on Monday for dropping the ball near AB de Villiers after he was run out on day four, but the headlines focused on enlightening press conferences from the two skippers.
Asked to comment after Warner and de Kock’s war of words near the dressing rooms was captured on CCTV and leaked to the press, Smith told reporters: “I think what was said and done during that interval was regrettable on both sides.
“Obviously Quinton got quite personal and provoked an emotional response from ‘Davey’ and, yeah, I think those things are not on – from both sides.
“Getting personal on the field is not on and that’s crossing the line in my opinion.”
Warner had to be restrained by several of his teammates during the incident.
It has been reported that de Kock was making derogatory comments about Warner’s wife, Candice, and Smith refused to deny that when quizzed on it.
He did say, however: “You can’t be getting into someone’s personal life … that’s not on. Right now it’s obviously in the hands of the umpires and match referee.”
While Smith conceded his team needed, at times, “to pull things back and ensure that we are playing within the spirit of the game”, he also said that he felt his side did not have an image problem.
“I think that’s the way we play our best cricket, when we’re aggressive, we’re in the fight together, we’re hunting as a pack … I’m comfortable with where it’s all at.”
‘That shouldn’t happen’
Du Plessis said he was disappointed that on-field words had spilled over into something more serious.
“From what I’ve heard, there was a lot of personal stuff being said,” he said.
“Who started it? I don’t know. If it was happening on the field, it probably should have been nipped in the bud on the field.
“If you want to go personal, then it needs to stay on the field.”
The South Africa skipper, who previously said Australia behaved like a “pack of dogs” during a 2014 Test series between the two nations, added that he prepared for a verbal barrage when he played against them.
“Every single match that I’ve played against Australia, you expect it,” he said.
“I’m certainly not sitting here complaining about it … we expect it … disappointing to see how that unfolded yesterday but we expect a tough series.”
Gilchrist: Warner needs a new approach
Australia legend Adam Gilchrist said that while Warner’s shift in attitude and mindset in recent years had gone from “aggressive” to far more subdued, a return to his old habits were concerning.
“It is always a worry in any situation where someone is so extreme in one direction or another,” he told SEN Radio.
“The balance between intensity and being relaxed … David has to find somewhere in between.”
The Lyon charge
Lyon was hit with a Level 1 breach by the International Cricket Council for his act after completing the run out that saw de Villiers dismissed for a second-innings duck.
He may be fined up to 50 per cent of his match fee and be given two demerit points – four would see him miss a Test.
The Cricket Australia website reported that Lyon has apologised to de Villiers.
The act was just one of many incidents match referee Jeff Crowe will look at, with Warner’s send-off to de Villiers and verbal outbursts from Mitchell Starc and South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada also attracting attention.
South Africa (chasing 417 to win)
298 all out
Starc 4-75, Hazlewood 3-61