Australia’s vice-captain David Warner was involved in a heated exchange with a spectator as he walked off the ground after his dismissal by Kagiso Rabada on day two of the third Test in Cape Town.
In the latest unsavoury episode of an eventful tour, Warner responded to his individual baiting from the spectator in scenes reminiscent of Merv Hughes’ infamous confrontation with a fan at the Wanderers in Johannesburg in 1994, for which he was given a suspended fine by the then Australian Cricket Board after bashing his bat against the barrier the spectator was behind.
Warner’s exchange was less violent but more prolonged, immediately after he had lost a gladiatorial bout with Rabada. Bowled by Rabada after a frenetic innings of 30 from 14 balls in which he struck the Proteas spearhead for 4-4-4-6-4 in the five balls before his dismissal, Warner found the middle-aged male spectator waiting for him as he commenced his walk from the boundary to the Australian dressing room, greeting him with sarcastic applause and plenty of words.
As the verbal barbs continued, Warner stopped to respond to the spectator, who was seated in the Members enclosure of the Western Province Cricket Club, before a security guard moved to intervene. Nevertheless the pair kept on exchanging words as they made their way up the stairs on either side of the fence separating the players from spectators – the incoming batsman Usman Khawaja walked past the two adversaries on his way to the middle.
Australia’s security manager, Frank Dimasi, subsequently made his way down to the area and spoke with both the security guard and the spectator. Australian touring teams have long acknowledged that they receive some of their harshest treatment from spectators in South Africa, although up to this point Warner’s tour had involved more exchanges with opponents than fans.
In Durban he was captured on CCTV cameras exchanging words with Quinton de Kock, then responding angrily to the response from the South Africa wicketkeeper and needing to be physically restrained by team-mates as he climbed the stairwell at Kingsmead. That incident saw Warner fined and handed three demerit points under the ICC code of conduct, meaning he is one further disciplinary infraction away from a ban. De Kock was also fined over the episode, albeit on a lesser charge.
Warner hsd alleged that his aggression was sparked by de Kock making personal remarks about his wife Candice. Between first two Test matches, offensive masks were distributed by fans in reference to her brief bathroom encounter with the rugby league player Sonny Bill Williams years before she and Warner became a couple. Two Cricket South Africa officials, Clive Eksteen and Altaaf Kazi, have been suspended by the home board after allowing fans wearing the masks to be admitted to St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth and then posing with them for a photograph.