Whenever a sledging incident involving the Australians, without thinking twice, everyone tends to blame them for the incident. Suddenly, they are the villains and the attention is diverted from the game to criticising them. However, one forgets that regardless of the culprit, the ultimate victim is the lovely game of cricket.
The first Test between South Africa and Australia turned out to be a more than decent match which had some excellent bowling performance from the Australians against a stubborn fightback from the hosts South Africa. After a marvellous effort from the Proteas to restrict an in-form Australian batting line-up for 351 and 227 in the two innings, they had to chase down 417 runs with more than a day in hand. While the South African batsmen, one after the other got dismissed, their wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock was playing a persistent knock. He was well set on one end, took his side gradually closer to the target and that frustrated the Australians. However, the battle between two top sides was a treat to watch for Test cricket lovers.
It needed a tea break to tarnish the aura of the match. The CCTV footage showed a fired up David Warner went after de Kock and the scene certainly looked ugly on camera. Usman Khawaja holds back Warner behind Australia’s captain Steven Smith pulled him behind. The CCTV footage only showed visuals but there was no audio about what triggered Warner to take an unacceptable action like that. Later on, Smith revealed in the press conference that de Kock made a few derogatory comments about Warner’s wife Candice which enraged the Australian vice-captain.
In the same reference, later on, Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee claimed that de Kock’s personal slur directed at Warner was in response to Warner’s comments about de Kock’s sister when the South African batsmen were trying to save the Test for his country on the final day. While South African Captain Faf du Plessis did not refute Smith’s accusation against de Kock, Smith and the entire Australian team stood behind Warner and invalidated South Africa’s statement regarding Warner personal attacking de Kock on the field.
— Adam Gilchrist (@gilly381) March 5, 2018
Inspite of the fact that du Plessis did not deny de Kock was guilty, the baby-faced South African wicketkeeper-batsman hardly was slammed for his comments, mostly because he was up against a player with a poor behaviour history, Warner. No matter, how many runs Warner has scored, recorded milestones with the bat or even has become the player who is the first one to stop an on-field brawl, sadly, Warner’s image has continued to be associated with the player who used to breach ICC Code of Conducts every now and then with his intolerable actions. More than the player who became the first Australian to score a hundred on his 100th ODI, Warner will be remembered as the player who punched Joe Root in the face during the Ashes 2013. Sadly, he has been judged more through his ugly “speak in English” spat with Rohit Sharma than his unbelievable transformation from a mere T20 specialist into one of the best Test openers in the current era.
Doesn't look good but everyone is typically quick to jump on @davidwarner31 because of his on field passion in playing for his country. Something's obviously provoked him to react like he did in the tunnel. Why would he randomly start a verbal stoush with someone off the field?
— Dan M (@d_j_m10) March 5, 2018
Partly, because he is an Australian and inappropriate on-field behaviour and Australians have gone hand in hand in the last few decades. In the end, nobody knew what actually happened and if the statements out in media were true or not.
Speaking of the news being leaked to the media, why did that happen in the first place? The incident that could have ended then and there only ended up being exaggerated. Both the skippers acknowledged these situations are unavoidable in intense games like this one. While du Plessis said he liked it that way, Smith said his side is at the best when their aggression level is at the top. But, that does not mean, they were given the liberty to breach the laws. If they do, that’s where the umpires came into the picture. Had the two on-field umpires noticed the wrongdoings on the field, the situation would not have got this bad!
Stump mics were introduced to lessen the umpires’ burden but that didn’t mean the umpires should not interfere. It’s always best to give the skippers a warning right away so that things didn’t go out of control later on. “If they [umpires] start rubbing blokes out for this sort of behaviour and miss a Test then it is going to cost a team at some point and if that happens the team-mates are going to clamp down on that behaviour and probably police it themselves,” former Australian cricketer Simon Katich said. Had this been followed, Warner-de Kock saga would have been side-lined right there. An avoidable situation had turned into a needless controversy.
To be frankly fucking honest, if someone spoke against my family member, I would have done a lot more than David Warner did. No one has the right to speak and go personal. De Kock, who has a “cock” in his name should understand it.
— Vibhuti🇦🇺 (@Vibhuti_R14) March 5, 2018
Alas, that didn’t. Unfortunately, by the time the Test ended, Australia’s bowling efforts and South Africa’s resilient towards the end was overshadowed by the controversy. So much that, the final press conference was just about that. When Smith finally received a question about the match, saying how his side had just won so dominantly, the press conference room burst into laughter. Knowing that the Test would be recalled for the incident more than Aiden Markaram’s 143 and Mitchell Starc’s nine wickets, it’s just sad.