CAPE TOWN – Another day of high-octane Test cricket, but yet another day of serious off-field drama between the Proteas and Australia at Newlands.
Only this time it seems there is no coming back for these two teams after Australian coach Darren Lehmann revealed that Cricket Australia have lodged an official complaint to their Cricket South Africa counterparts about the “disgraceful” behaviour of South African spectators in this highly controversial series.
Lehmann and the Aussies have opted to take the moral high ground despite the abuse South African cricketers have been on the receiving end of in the past – such as Hashim Amla being called a “terrorist” in Hobart two years ago.
This comes after opening batsman David Warner was harassed by a spectator in the Members Pavilion on his way back to the dressing room on Friday, after being dismissed by Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada.
“You can have the banter, that’s fine. But they’ve gone too far here. It’s been poor. It was personal, and it was poor, and he wasn’t the only one,” Lehmann said of the Warner incident.
“I think it’s been disgraceful. You’re talking about abuse of various players and their families... it’s not on at a cricket ground anywhere around the world, not just here.
“They’ve got to be better than that when they come to international arenas to watch a game of two quality sides playing against each other.”
The series has degenerated ever since Warner and Quinton de Kock were involved in a stairwell fracas during the first Test in Durban, where the South African wicket-keeper reportedly made a “vile and disgusting” comment about Warner’s wife Candice.
All these shenanigans have once again taken the shine off some brilliant performances out in the middle.
Dean Elgar continued where he left off on Thursday evening to finish as only the second batsman in the world to carry his bat through an innings three times as he anchored South Africa’s total of 311 with an undefeated 141.
But were it not for a foolish man chasing Warner up the staircase and delivering some choice words to him, the day would surely have belonged to Morné Morkel.
He would certainly have deserved it too, for the lanky Proteas seamer had reason to celebrate 12 years of toil on Friday when he claimed his 300th Test wicket.
Morkel became only the fifth Protea to join the elite club consisting of Shaun Pollock (421 wickets), Dale Steyn (419), Makhaya Ntini (390) and Allan Donald (330) when he dismissed Australia’s Shaun Marsh during the second session.
“It’s a special feeling, especially because I’m the world record holder for the most no-balls!
Morne Morkel: We spoke about (Lyon) getting those runs at the end - it was similar to yesterday. But a lead of 60 is still. Nathan played really well, and hopefully we can get that wicket tomorrow as soon as possible #SAvAUS
“When I got the first one, I had to turn around to see if it was a legal delivery, the second one and third one (too). To eventually reach it was something I worked for a long time, and to do it at this amazing venue made it even better,” Morkel said.
“To be honest, it is all a bit of a blur. For me, it meant quite a lot to get that wicket. I’ve really worked hard.
“I wasn’t blessed with that natural talent to run up and hit a length, so for me over the 12 years, it was a lot of hard work, and I am proud of myself to get that milestone.”
Morkel’s 300th scalp was the third of four wickets the lanky seamer bagged on Friday.
Along with Vernon Philander’s miserly work from the Kelvin Grove End, which included top-scorer Cameron Bancroft’s wicket, and Rabada’s 3/81, it allowed the Proteas to take a firm hold of proceedings.
It was not only until tail-ender Nathan Lyon swatted his career-best Test score of 47 that the Aussies were allowed to breathe again, and ultimately fight their way back into the contest to end the day on 245/9, just 66 runs behind South Africa.
“It was a bit of a disappointment that we let it slip towards the end, so we need to get that wicket tomorrow early and then bat maybe for a day-and-a-half and put them under pressure,” Morkel said.