Australian coach Darren Lehmann at the press conference at Newlands on Friday evening. Photo: Ashfak Mohamed

CAPE TOWN – Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith says he has “never seen an Aussie team whinge and whine like this” as he was joined by Mark Boucher and other ex-players in criticising Australian coach Darren Lehmann’s comment that the behaviour of South African fans has been “disgraceful”.

Lehmann was referring to the latest incident involving under-fire batsman David Warner, who copped a mouthful from a spectator in the stands after he was clean-bowled by Kagiso Rabada for 30 on day two of the third Test at Newlands on Friday.

Warner stopped and exchanged words with the spectator, who was believed to be a guest in the Members Stand and was escorted out of the stadium after officials intervened.

“I think it’s been disgraceful. You’re talking about abuse of various players and their families and personal abuse, it’s not on at a cricket ground anywhere around the world, not just here, it shouldn’t happen,” Lehmann said at a press conference after the day’s play on Friday evening.

“You can have the banter, that’s fine, banter is good-natured, fun by crowds. But they’ve gone too far here. We’ve written to Cricket South Africa, Cricket Australia have done that, we’ll see their response, but it’s been poor. We’ll see what happens, hopefully something.”

But Smith and Boucher felt that it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black, as the Proteas have endured vicious verbal abuse on tours of Australia over the years.

On the last trip Down Under in November 2016, a fan scribbled graffiti on a wall at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart and labelled Hashim Amla a “terrorist”, while Makhaya Ntini has been called the K-word as well in Perth in 2005.

Those are just two examples, and ex-SA skipper Smith tweeted in response to Lehmann’s comments: “Absolutely right, and I don’t condone any of it.... But Blimey i have never seen an Aussie team whinge and whine like this!”

Boucher added: “Correct Darren! Fully agree! But... start cleaning up in your own country first! The personal, racial abuse I’ve witnessed in Aus was ridiculous. U guys don’t live in a glass house! Why the fuss all of a sudden? Seems fine when the shoe is on the other foot!

“Wake up to Australians moaning about abuse toward their players...pfffff.... pot, kettle... now sit back and watch Aussies abuse me for this tweet”

Boucher also replied to criticism for his views by saying: “My relationships with former Aussie players are good. Loved playing against them and touring Aus! I’m commenting on ur coach moaning about abuse...which is laughable...that’s it! Doubt my thoughts will ruin relations.”

Former left-arm spinner Paul Harris also weighed in. “I cannot repeat what i was called numerous times in Aus. The personal and racial abuse was really out there. Shouldn’t throw stones in a glass house I say.

“Could not have said it better Bouch. Jeepers this Aussie side love a moan. #hardenup”

Former opener Herschelle Gibbs tweeted: “The sledging issues, figure pointing still going on in #SAvsAUS series would u people like some tissues maybe”

Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Thabang Moroe said in a statement that the behaviour of the man who confronted Warner at Newlands “were not tolerable”.

“Cricket South Africa and the players appreciate the fans’ passionate support displayed at all our games. However, the events that transpired today were not tolerable and something that we don’t want to see at any of our Test matches,” Moroe said.

“We have since taken it upon ourselves to beef up our security personnel to ensure that players from both sides don’t have to endure such unfortunate behaviour.

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“Both CSA and the players encourage supporters to continue rooting for their teams, and also to behave in a decorous manner that will allow this Test series to be played in the true spirit of the game.”

 

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