Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 27, 2014

Warner fined for sharp-practice comments

David Warner, the Australia opener, has been fined for his suggestion that South Africa's burst of reverse swing to win the Port Elizabeth Test was achieved by suspicious means.

Following the conclusion of the Test, Warner told an Australian radio station that he had kept an eye on the conduct of the wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, claiming that he may have used his gloves to scrape the ball.

This accusation was rejected by South African management, while both the bowling coach Craig McDermott and the fast bowler Ryan Harris have spoken adamantly that the hosts did nothing wrong in their care of the ball.

Warner was subsequently cited under the ICC Code of conduct, for a level one breach of article 2.1.7. He has accepted the penalty, a 15% fine of his match fee ($2880). The relevant article reads:

"Public criticism of, or inappropriate comment in relation to an incident occurring in an International Match or any Player, Player Support Personnel, Match official or team participating in any International Match, irrespective of when such criticism or inappropriate comment is made."

The charge was laid by the presiding ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama, who said Warner's words had been inappropriate and disrespectful.

"It was disrespectful for David to publicly denigrate an opponent when commenting on a match-related incident, and imply that a South African player was engaging in sharp practice. I'm sure David will be careful when making public comments in future."

Harris spoke for the majority of his team-mates in asserting that none of de Villiers, Dale Steyn or any other member of the team did anything untoward in Port Elizabeth.

"I've got no doubt what they did was fine, otherwise the umpires and the match referee would have done something," Harris said. "You're referring to Davey Warner's comments obviously.

"They've obviously looked after the ball a lot better than us, and if there's anything illegal about it I'm sure we would have heard about it by now. They've obviously had experience at that ground and knew what they had to do. AB was obviously doing something with his gloves. But it's not illegal otherwise the umpires would have done something. If he was doing something illegal, he would have been fined. You've got to do something with the ball, everyone does it.

"We didn't do it well enough so we've just got to make sure that if it happens here [Newlands], somehow we've got to get it going. Throwing it into the ground, that happens in every day cricket now as long as you're doing it from the outfield.

"There are things that are not secret because everyone does it, and then it's a matter of how you polish it up and what you do after that.

"But I think if there's any scratching or anything like that done, the umpires are checking the ball every 15 overs or whatever and if they see it, they'll change it and they'll make a report.

"Davey's comments were obviously wrong and thats been dealt with by the ICC. I dont really want to comment on that. They handled the ball better than us."

Harris said Australia had a stint in the nets against a scruffed up ball, to better equip their batsmen. Training against a worn out ball was important, he said. "I am probably also guilty of, in training, using the new ball too much. We need to use the old ball as well to give the batsmen practice."

Steyn, when asked about Warner's comments, said it would have been more appropriate if "people" appreciated the skills of the hosts' bowlers rather than questioning their tactics.

"It's not my business to get involved. When we were beaten at SuperSport Park, we went back to the drawing board and looked at how we could improve our game," Steyn said. "When you lose a game maybe that's what you should be doing.

"It would be a lot better if people talked about how well you executed your skills instead of looking at ways of how you got that skill."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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