CAPE TOWN – Darren Lehmann may want a round-table of coaches and captains to discuss player behaviour, but there’s no doubt things will be different from now on.
A bit like infidelity within a relationship, there’s no amount of counselling that is going to undo what happened on that stairwell on Sunday at Kingsmead - especially with it being recorded on tape for the world to review too.
And even more so when the respective Australian and South African camps are in open dispute as to what actually set off David Warner’s fuse so much so that he needed his teammates to physically restrain him from heading for Quinton de Kock.
With the second Test just two days away from starting in Port Elizabeth on Friday, it is unlikely that the heat between the two teams would have had sufficient time to cool down as yet.
Former Proteas batsman and current Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince certainly believes the fire will still be burning within both teams at St George’s Park and that no team will suddenly become becalmed.
“At the end of the day, the typical Aussie is a confident guy, some might call it arrogant, but ultimately it is born out of ‘I know I am good. I know what I can bring to the party. I am going to come and knock you over and I am making no bones about the fact that I am coming to knock you over!’
“I think there is always a place for it. At the end of the day it’s a contest, and as long as it doesn’t become personal. I am not sure of the content that was used in Durban, but when the talk revolves around family, guy’s wives, then it does become something that’s not cricket.
If it is cricket related then that’s fine. I was certainly not only going to take it, I was prepared to give it back. I was a firm believer that ‘why is it only the bowler and fielders that are entitled to say something, why can’t I say something?’”
Prince was certainly renowned during his playing days as a cricketer that relished the combat out in the middle. Although short in stature, the left-hander who hails from the tough neighbourhood of Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth never allowed the opposition to intimidate him, even when making his Test debut against the “best team in the world” in 2002.
“I suppose where I drew my confidence from was where I came from. My pathway to the top was probably different to 90% of South African cricketers.
“I didn’t come through the school system, but rather the club system where if you have a bit of talent, you’re playing 1st XI Men’s cricket at 14-15 years of age. There you face all the same things that you probably hear out in the middle of a Test match against the Aussies. The verbals, the intimidation all those types of things. I had seen it before, so it was nothing different for me. I had my ways of dealing with it,” said Prince.
“People play the game from different perspectives. If I think of Herschelle Gibbs, he was an entertainer. Maybe because of the way I came into first-class cricket, as a player of colour post-apartheid, it was always all about proving your worth. So my cricket journey was different. It was almost like you were going into war. I wasn’t there to entertain.
“This is war! It is your country against my country, and we are both here to defend each other’s country.”
However, for all the sledging that is going on at the moment, Prince does want to see the Proteas back it up with performance, especially with the bat, in his birth city this week.
“Australia have come here with a good attack, but it’s certainly not McGrath, Lee, Gillespie and Warne and that (Kingsmead) pitch was slow and good for batting. The thing that bothered me most was that in the first innings there was no fight,” Prince said despondently.
“The thing you associate most with South African teams is resilience, and there was simply no fight. In the second innings only when the game was over, you had players playing more freely, but the game was more or less over.”