Tempers flare at Auckland March 1, 2004

Sledging clampdown follows Eden Park rows


Gundappa Viswanath, the match referee, plans to rein in New Zealand and South Africa captains Stephen Fleming and Graeme Smith before Tuesday's final ODI to stop sledging spiralling out of control.

Sunday's match at Eden Park was marred by some heated exchanges, with Fleming and Smith indulging in a prolonged verbal exchange and Brendon McCullum and Jacques Kallis having to be separated after clashing mid-pitch.

Surprisingly Viswanath, not known as a strict disciplinarian, took no action after umpires Russell Tiffin and Doug Cowie assured him that the matter was not too serious. He said he would speak to both captains before the toss tomorrow. "I will remind them what we discussed at the pre-series meeting," he said. "Yesterday there were a couple of incidents and I don't want it to get out of hand. I'll just mention it, there's still a lot of cricket left in the series."

But while Viswanath looked to play the incidents down, the same could not be said for John Bracewell, New Zealand's coach, who praised Fleming for sticking up for his players. "I quite like the way they're not allowing themselves to be bullied, and I like the way their team-mates went in there and helped them out," he explained. "The South Africans learned the trick from the Australians but I don't think they're as good at it. We're very aware of it, under pressure with their backs to the wall, people will try those things. The Australians do it by nature, they do it before they've started losing."

South Africa's coach Eric Simons said he was disappointed with the Fleming-Smith clash, but wasn't about to second-guess Viswanath. "There's needle out there but it wasn't necessary perhaps," Simons said, adding there was no lingering animosity between the sides.

New Zealand released Craig McMillan from the squad to be with his wife Cherie in Christchurch for the impending birth of their first child at the weekend. It means yesterday's Man of the Match Chris Harris gets another chance, with Daryl Tuffey the most likely 12th man after suffering what Bracewell termed a "corked thigh" after sliding on the boundary rope yesterday.

Simons said he would consider resting some key players ahead of the Test series, with Shaun Pollock, who was nursing various niggles, the most likely absentee.