Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith and veteran wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, have hit out at Australia coach Darren Lehmann and his team for calling the Newlands crowd “disgraceful” following the second day’s play of the third Test in Cape Town.
At the end of the second day, during which Australia opener David Warner was confronted by a fan as he returned to the changeroom, and 12 other spectators were ejected from the ground for singing distasteful songs about Warner’s wife Candice, Lehmann said the fans had “gone too far,” and had made personal remarks about the Australian players’ partners and wives. Cricket Australia lodged an official complaint with Cricket South Africa, who beefed up security in response.
The only reaction from the South African camp so far was fast bowler Morne Morkel urging fans not to “get out line,” but Smith and Boucher have taken on Lehmann, effectively saying Australian crowds were the same, if not worse.
“Correct Darren! Fully agree! But… start cleaning up in your own country first! The personal, racial abuse I’ve witnessed in Aus was ridiculous. U guys don’t live in a glass house! Why the fuss all of a sudden? Seems fine when the shoe is on the other foot,” Boucher tweeted in response to a clip of Lehmann posted by cricket.com.au, an account run by Cricket Australia.
Smith responded to Boucher, pointing to the Australia team as a whole. He tweeted: “Absolutely right, and I don’t condone any of it But blimey I have never seen an Aussie team whinge and whine like this!”
Former South Africa spinner Paul Harris also added his voice, tweeting, “I cannot repeat what I was called numerous times in Aus. The personal and racial abuse was really out there. Shouldn’t throw stones in a glass house I say.”
Correct Darren! Fully agree! But… start cleaning up in your own country first! The personal, racial abuse I’ve witnessed in Aus was ridiculous. U guys don’t live in a glass house! Why the fuss all of a sudden? Seems fine when the shoe is on the other foot!
— mark boucher (@markb46) March 24, 2018
South African players have been subjected to abuse from Australian crowds on several occasions in the past with Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Ashwell Prince, Garnett Kruger and Shaun Pollock all complaining of racial abuse in 2005-06. On South Africa’s most recent tour to Australia in November 2016, a spectator called Hashim Amla a terrorist in graffiti written on a fence at Bellerive Oval. The fan was banned from all Australian grounds for three years. In contrast, none of the fans involved in any incidents during the ongoing Cape Town Test, including the man who confronted Warner, have been banned, and though they were removed from the ground at the time of their indiscretion, they will be allowed back in.
Some of the criticism of Lehmann stems from his own history in egging on crowds to act as a 12th man. In 2013, Lehmann said said his players had called Stuart Broad “everything under the sun,” and hoped “the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and he cries and goes home,” after Broad did not walk when nicking off during the first Ashes Test that summer. Lehmann also called Broad a cheat and was fined 20% of his match fee.
Earlier in this series, Quinton de Kock was disciplined – 25% of his match fee and one demerit point – for saying something inappropriate, when he made a comment to Warner about his wife during the Durban Test. De Kock was responding to hours of being sledged by Warner on-field and his jibe prompted an aggressive response from Warner, who had to be physically restrained by his team-mates on the stairwell leading to the players’ changeroom. Warner was charged with and found guilty of a Level 2 offence; he earned three demerit points and was fined 75% fee for his actions.
At the time, both captains said the sledging had got personal, though they disagreed about what constituted a personal sledge. For South Africa, comments about physical appearance and weight – which Warner made to de Kock – fall into the category, while Australia regard anything to do with family as personal.
Some sections of the South African fan-base have latched onto the idea of shaming the opposition’s other halves and wore masks bearing the face of Sonny-Bill Williams, the rugby player with whom Candice Warner had a liaison several years before marrying Warner, during the St George’s Park Test. Two CSA officials posed with the fans and have since been suspended. The masks have not made an appearance at Newlands, but a Sonny-Bill banner was confiscated on day one and people singing songs about Williams were removed from the stadium on day two.