Australians might be unsettled ahead of crucial third Test against the Proteas.
Australian captain Michael Clarke on Friday criticised David Warner over comments that earned the opening batsman a fine from International Cricket Council match referee Roshan Mahanama.
Warner was fined 15 percent of his match fee for “inappropriate comments” when he suggested South African wicketkeeper AB de Villiers might have illegally altered the condition of the ball to induce reverse swing during South Africa’s 231-run win in the second Test at Port Elizabeth.
Speaking on the eve of the decisive third Test starting at Newlands on Saturday, Clarke said the Australians had dealt with the issue in house, in addition to Warner being fined by the ICC.
“I’ve made it very clear to David how disappointed I was, and am, with his comments,” said Clarke.
“At the appropriate time I’ll certainly catch up with (South African captain) Graeme (Smith) and make it clear how I feel about it.”
Clarke said the issue had been dealt with. “Now it’s about playing cricket,” he said.
“Once we step on the field I’ll back my teammates 100 percent. Davey’s no different. He’s a tough bugger, there’s no doubt about it, and he’ll love the challenge he faces when he walks out onto that ground.
“I’ve read and heard a number of the South Africans say how disappointed they were with him and I think he’s assuming he’s going to cop a bit of stick on the field. But that’s no different, he actually enjoys that.”
Smith earlier made no secret of his annoyance at Warner’s comments.
“He’s becoming a bit of rent-a-quote,” said the South African captain. “My thoughts are pretty strong and I’ll probably say something later but at the moment my focus is on preparing for this game.
As the coach (Russell Domingo) said, it adds a bit of extra motivation. It is just sad that it took the gloss off an extremely good win and an extremely good spell of fast bowling.”
Both captains said they were looking forward to a contest which has attracted huge interest.
“It’s all set up for a cracking Test match,” said Smith said. “You can feel the vibe around Cape Town. Most of the cricketing eyes of the world are going to be on this Test match.
“It’s between two quality teams who play the game hard and that’s what you want in Test cricket.”
Smith said he and his team were well prepared for a clash which has sparked an unprecedented run on tickets for a Test at Newlands, with the first two days completely sold out.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for us over the next five days and one that I’m really looking forward to,” said Smith.
“It’s been a challenging two weeks. A few obstacles have come our way and off the field there have been a few challenges personally as well. But I’ve had a good week of preparation personally and the team is in a good space.”
Smith did not elaborate on the “obstacles” but injuries, illness and Warner’s accusations have all added to the drama of a contest which stands at one Test each.
He said the personal issues were linked to his 19-month-old daughter Cadence but did not provide any details.
Clarke said Australia could be proud of their performances so far. “We achieved everything we wanted through the Australian home summer.
“I’ve said all along our greatest challenge is to have success overseas. To sit in the position we are at 1-1 going into the third Test against the number one team in the world in their own backyard is a great achievement. Now we’ve got an opportunity to win the series.”