IOL Cricket writer Lungani Zama.

Sledging, send-offs, sniping and now, supposedly, sandpaper.

Someone draw this mystical line, please, so we can go back to just watching cricket.

Even before the show got to Cape Town, the carry-on had gone beyond the point of tiresome. Jeff Crowe probably couldn’t wait for his two-match stint to be over, after working harder in a fortnight than he has over the past few years.

We can now safely say that the Kiwi wasn’t the jinx on the series.

Beyond his watch, the bad blood has continued to flow unabated. Heck, it will probably keep dripping into the winter, as arrows of discontent are fired across the oceans.

This is what a great series has descended to; a series of press conferences that overshadow much of the brilliance we have witnessed from the middle.

The latest “drama” is the business of Bancroft and balls, which just looked ridiculous. In this day of a million cameras  even up the stairs  it is cricketing suicide to try and tamper with the state of the ball.

And, as we well know, tampering with the ball is not a decision that the least experienced player in the team would take on his own volition.

Cameron Bancroft looked sheepish throughout the second session, and so too did his captain and coach.

The images certainly don’t look good, and it will be most interesting to see what the final verdict will be.

Yet again, the cricket will be overshadowed by the thoughts of the match referee.

Already, the Australians have lodged a complaint about a fan heckling David Warner (who else?) on the second afternoon.

That it was Darren Lehmann, no angel himself when it comes to stoking up a crowd to get on the back of the opposition, who laid the complaint about the crowd behaviour didn’t escape the attention of an audience armed with the unerring memory of media archives.

The Aussie coach, and former player, has labelled the behaviour in Cape Town as the worst he has ever seen.

It makes you wonder if the Australian dressing-room is shielded from the vitriol that their fans have hurled at the opposition over the years, because no touring party that has been competitive has been safe from the XXXX-laced fire.

Still, the tourists have maintained that they  and their fans  never cross “the line”. If you ask Jonathan Trott, or Stuart Broad, or Jonny Bairstow if some of the barbs that came their way Down Under crossed the line, the answer may be very different.

But we don’t even have to go that far for feedback.

Ask Makhaya Ntini, or Paul Harris, or just about any South African who has fielded on the fence on tour.

It has been fascinating to see Australia attempt to take the moral high ground on so many aspects of the game that they are notorious for being the top dogs in.

Indeed, they have become that very thing that they say they despise about the English and the South Africans on tour; the whingers.

Australia have cried wolf at every opportunity, and it has become tiresome now.

You wonder what the gaggle of former Australian captains and players in town for extensive commentary duty really think of all the whining from their countrymen.

Is this really the new, Australian way?

If you took a poll, most South Africans may say they almost prefer the old days, when the Baggy Greens were winning.

Anything is better than all this whining.

Sunday Tribune

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