Steyn, Gayle play down mid-pitch hostilities

Jacques Kallis gestures to Kemar Roach Associated Press

Man of the Series Dale Steyn and West Indies captain Chris Gayle played down the mid-pitch hostilities that threatened to go out of hand during the course of the third Test between West Indies and South Africa. South Africa won the Test and with it the series 2-0, but the cricketing action took a back seat as two ugly incidents marred the proceedings on the third and fourth days in Barbados.

Steyn was at the centre of the first flare-up, as he appeared to spit in the direction of Sulieman Benn who got close to and laughed at Steyn when he was dismissed. The second run-in involved Kemar Roach who repeatedly went up to Jacques Kallis after hitting him with a bouncer and exchanged words. The stand-off threatened to escalate and required the intervention of the umpires and West Indies fielders to come under control. So far, match referee Jeff Crowe has not come out with punishments for the players involved.

Steyn attributed the tension to the high stakes involved for both teams at the end of a long tour. "Everybody seemed to swell up in the heat of the moment," Steyn told AFP. "We have been away from home for a long time, five months, and this was the last game. West Indies knew that they needed to win the game to level the series, and we knew we needed to win this game to win the series, so things are going to happen. That's just part of the game."

Gayle abstained from passing judgment on the incidents and said it was for the referee to handle. "If anything needs to be dealt with I am sure the match referee and the on-field umpires will actually take that into play," Gayle said.

"The spirit and sportsmanship was good leading up to this match. It's just unfortunate in the end, where we had a bit of a boil up. It is cricket and you have to be hostile sometimes. If you can give it out, then you should take it. That's how I look at it," he said.