David Warner was involved in a “disgraceful” and ugly clash with a spectator on a thrilling second day of the third Test against Australia and South Africa in Cape Town.
An official complaint has been lodged to Cricket South Africa, Australia coach Darren Lehmann revealed after play.
It looked like being a poor day for the tourists when, in response to South Africa’s 311, they were reduced to 8-175 in the final session on Friday (local time).
But Nathan Lyon (47) and Tim Paine (33 not out) added 66 crucial runs for the ninth wicket as Australia went to stumps at 9-245, still behind the eight-ball but in a position far from disastrous.
On a day in which 10 wickets fell, Warner’s 14-ball cameo – in which he smashed five fours and a six in a whirlwind 30 – was the undoubted highlight, but his dismissal, after a stunning Kagiso Rabada (3-81 off 19 overs) delivery, led to an unfortunate scene.
As Warner trudged off the field, a spectator heckled him and the pair exchanged words despite the presence of a security guard.
Later reports indicated the spectator was ejected from Cape Town, where rowdy fans once again attempted to get under the tourists’ skin, much to the annoyance of Lehmann.
“I think it [the abuse of our players] has been disgraceful,” Lehmann said.
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“You can have banter but they’ve gone too far. It’s been poor.
“We have never experienced the abuse at this level. There has been various incidents through the tour and today.
“We have lodged a complaint. It’s been very personal abuse, about players [and their] families.”
Warner plundered three successive fours off Rabada in the fourth over of Australia’s innings and made it five boundaries in as many balls off the paceman when he started the sixth over with a six and a four.
Rabada had the last laugh though, sending Warner’s off stump cartwheeling away after a terrific ball.
Morne Morkel (4-87 off 20) is set to retire at the end of the series but claimed the scalps of Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith (both five) to put Australia on the back foot at 3-72.
Smith’s dismissal was particularly surprising, with the Australia skipper picking out Dean Elgar at gully and hitting him a simple catch.
Opener Cameron Bancroft played superbly for Australia and his 77 runs came from 103 deliveries and included 14 fours.
He and fellow West Australian Shaun Marsh (26) added 78 for the fourth wicket before the latter also fell to Morkel, becoming his 300th Test victim in the process.
And a collapse of 5-35 followed as Bancroft’s stay ended when he was trapped lbw by Vernon Philander (2-26 off 15), and Mitch Marsh (five), Pat Cummins (four) and Mitchell Starc (two) all fell cheaply.
That brought Lyon and Paine together and the spinner swung hard, taking the game on and riding his luck – he was dropped twice – to hit eight fours in a 38-ball cameo.
Paine did his best at the other end, too, and the pair frustrated a Proteas side going for the kill.
Lyon eventually holed out when he skied a Morkel ball to Elgar, but Josh Hazlewood (one not out) and Paine, unbeaten on 33, did enough to see Australia to stumps.
Earlier, South Africa resumed at 8-266 and aiming for a total of above 300.
Opener Elgar carried his bat through South Africa’s innings, finishing on 141 not out, and he and Rabada (22) frustrated Australia in the early stages.
The pair added 50 runs for the ninth wicket, and it took the introduction of Lyon (2-43 off 19.5 overs) to end the partnership when Rabada edged to slip.
Morkel (four) then fell in near-identical fashion in the same over to bring South Africa’s innings to a close.
It was a good start for the Proteas on a day they controlled, but they may rue Lyon and Paine’s late stand if an early wicket is hard to come by on day three.