Australia’s Matthew Wade and South African Tabraiz Shamsi have been charged under the ICC Code of Conduct after the pair engaged in a series of exchanges during the fourth ODI in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. The confrontations were a boiling point to simmering tensions between the two sides throughout the one-sided series, with former Australia and South Africa batsman Kepler Wessels having last week expressed surprise and distaste that the world champions continue to play a verbally – and at one moment yesterday, almost physically – aggressive form of cricket when they are being so clearly outclassed on the field.Wade, who in the wake of South Africa’s five-wicket win with almost 15 overs to spare on Sunday conceded the Australians “had a crack” at their South African opponents during the Durban match after the tourists had posted a huge total, took issue with Shamsi early in his innings.
When the combative left-hander’s top-edged sweep landed perilously close to a South African outfielder, which prompted Shamsi – an equally animated and polarising on-field character due to his extravagant appealing and over-the-top wicket celebrations – to offer some prolonged advice to the Victoria captain. Shortly after, as he ran through for a single from Shamsi’s bowling, Wade veered towards the South Africa left-arm wrist spinner and might have even have brushed his shirt with his left elbow as he ran past with Shamsi standing stock still on the pitch edge.
When asked about the incident after the game, Wade claimed he did not believe it was a serious matter and said he hoped the action taken by umpires Nigel Llong and Adrian Holdstock in consultation with the protagonists and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis would signal its conclusion.“I hope it all stays out there, there wasn’t a lot in it to be honest,” Wade said before being made aware he and Shamsi had been charged with a breach under article 2.1.1.
“It’s just competitive cricket really, international cricket is hard work. Everyone’s going their hardest, we had a crack at them the other night (in Durban) and they came back at us today. I enjoy that side of the contest a lot. It gets me in the contest I feel so I like that side of the game. It obviously gets blown out of all proportion at times with the all the technology around the wicket and stump (microphones) and cameras everywhere. We’ve got to find a way to keep him (Shamsi) out of the contest, I think if he doesn’t get in the contest with wickets like he did today I think we can keep him a little quieter.”
Wessels, himself a fiercely competitive batsman who qualified to play for Australia before returning to South Africa when they were re-admitted to world cricket following the end of apartheid, aired his views in his regular column in the wake of last Wednesday’s match in Durban.
Where South Africa mounted the second-highest successful run chase in ODI history while receiving a running commentary on their progress from Wade, whose comments behind the stumps were regularly picked up and broadcast by stump microphones. Sometimes in contravention of protocols that dictate microphones must be muted when the ball is not ‘live’ (eg in between deliveries, when it’s come to rest in the ‘keeper’s gloves etc).
While he didn’t name Wade in his article, Wessels – who is understood to be returning to Brisbane to live in coming months – remarked in commentary during yesterday’s fourth match in Port Elizabeth that he “wasn’t surprised” by the animosity that sprung up on the field when Wade arrived at the crease with Australia’s innings in disarray.
“During the third match the Aussies resorted to a lot of sledging as well,” Wessels wrote on South Africa’s ‘Super Sport’ website over the weekend that also focused on Australia’s largely untried and struggling pace bowling outfit. “They will be well advised to pick their time better before they go down that route. It is one thing to have a crack verbally when there is a bowling attack to back up the sledging. It is pure stupidity to use sledging as a strategy when there is no firepower in the bowling attack.
“The only thing that can happen is that players who resort to sledging when they don’t have a strong bowling attack end up with egg all over their faces, which is exactly what happened in Durban during the third one-day international. Some of the Australians had a lot to say during the match which backfired completely.”
Wade, who made 52 to record his third ODI half-century of a productive 2016, and Shamsi, playing just his third ODI, will know their fate later today (Monday), with the outcome of an ICC hearing to be announced by match referee Chris Broad. The fact the Australians, most conspicuously and volubly Wade, have stepped up the gamesmanship despite being 0-4 behind in the games has come as no surprise to the Proteas Who claim the on-field banter and bombast they come to expect when Australia holds the whip hand was always going to escalate when their arch foes suddenly found themselves on the losing team.
Which they’ve been at Centurion, at Wanderers, at Durban and yesterday in another lop-sided contest at Port Elizabeth with the final match at Cape Town offering the last chance for the visitors to avoid a 5-0 whitewash that is unprecedented for Australia in bilateral ODI competitions. South Africa’s occasionally fiery fast bowler Kyle Abbott said the fact that the volume of vigour of Australia’s on-field chat had risen in inverse proportion to their on-field success on this tour was simply par for the course.
“No … no,” Abbott said, pausing to think when asked if he agreed that it was unusual and counter-productive for the world champions to be talking the talk when results suggested they were the walking wounded. “When they’re on top obviously you get it from them.
“But we knew that when they’re down they are probably going to turn it up a gear. So we’re not surprised.”