Mark Taylor, the Cricket Australia Board director, has criticised the national team for their on-field behaviour in South Africa, saying both sides had contributed to the ugly atmosphere that led to Kagiso Rabada’s two-Test ban for physical contact with Steven Smith, and the confrontation between David Warner and Quinton de Kock.
In a series of comments likely to sting Smith in particular given their mentoring relationship, Taylor said the Australians should be on their “final warning” from match officials for celebrating in the faces of the opposition when a batsman was dismissed. The clearest example of this was when Warner celebrated the run out of AB de Villiers in Durban by screaming at the other batsman Aiden Markram.
“Both sides should be on their final warnings, and that definitely includes Australia,” Taylor told Channel Nine. “There’s been too much of this in-your-face celebration when batsmen are dismissed, and the Australian bowlers have been as guilty as the South African bowlers at times.”
Taylor’s comments follow those made by a fellow former Australian captain Ian Chappell, who said that Smith and the coach Darren Lehmann were as culpable as Warner for letting things spiral out of control. Chappell had advocated a suspension for Warner, but also pointed out that team leaders needed to carry a heavy burden of responsibility for their players’ actions.
“I absolutely agree with that,” Taylor said. “Unfortunately it’s where David Warner has come unstuck, he’s actually made a point in recent times of saying that he wants to bring back the old David Warner and get in the face of the opposition. He told the world what he was going to do and what’s more he’s gone about and done it, and taken it to another level.
“I’m not suggesting for a minute we have silence out in the middle, but there’s no doubt it’s getting worse. Bullying is not a bad term for it, and they’re using it too much. It just keeps escalating and now it’s getting out of hand.”
As for Rabada’s appeal against a two-Test ban, which appears likely to be heard before the start of the third Test in Cape Town next week, Taylor said he considered the bowler to have made “avoidable” contact with the Australian captain after dismissing him on day one of the Test at St George’s Park.
“I’m not surprised South Africa are appealing the suspension because he’s obviously a key player for them,” Taylor said. “Having taking 11 wickets in the last Test they are going to do everything they can to keep him on the field, but he’s in trouble because he’s already been found guilty. In my mind the contact with Steve Smith in the second Test was avoidable, so that’s why he’s in trouble.”
A fresh set of match officials are due to oversee the series in the final two Tests at Newlands and the Wanderers, with Jeff Crowe’s match referee role to be taken over by the former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Pycroft, who also officiated in South Africa’s series victory in Australia in late 2016.