PORT ELIZABETH – When Jeff Crowe packed up his briefcase and walked out of the conference room after the Quinton de Kock hearing at the plush Boardwalk Hotel on Wednesday evening, he looked an exasperated man.
A bit like a parent who had just disciplined his children. It is not something that parents enjoy doing, but ultimately simply have to do. Part of the job, so to speak.
As the ICC match-referee, it is Crowe’s duty to uphold the level of conduct on the cricket field - or off it too in this case.
The former New Zealand all-rounder, though, almost always seems to find himself in the hot seat when grown men start behaving like children. He was on duty during the 2013 Ashes too when Australia and England were dishing out a verbal barrage that included such niceties from Michael Clarke to Jimmy Anderson like: “Get ready for a f..king broken arm”.
Now with the South African-Australian series threatening to disintegrate into a playground scuffle, the “parents” have been called in again to restore order.
Crowe, through the ICC, has taken disciplinary action with Warner fined 75% of his match fee and issued with three demerit points and De Kock 25% and one demerit point for their respective roles on the Kingsmead staircase.
He also - just like in Australia - called in the respective coaches into his chambers in the hope that the adults start behaving like adults again.
It has all been a bit bemusing to watch from the outside hasn’t it?
I sit on the side of the line - there’s that word again - that chirping does have a role to play in the game, which is why I wholeheartedly agree with Proteas captain Faf du Plessis’s summation: “I don’t have an issue with chirping at all. I think chirping is good for the game. “
These are professional athletes competing on the highest stage, representing the pride of their nations. Ashwell Prince declared it “war” earlier in the week.
We do not want robots who are purely in the entertainment industry picking up pay cheques.
Equally, it is also not a schoolboy match on Saturday morning with teachers controlling it. However, I do understand that it is those very same schoolboys who take the lead from what their heroes are doing out in the middle. Already, the age-old tradition of walking when edging the ball behind has disappeared at schoolboy level.
Young cricketers are now even questioning umpires LBW decisions, requesting television reviews of all things!
The Proteas are certainly no angels, with Du Plessis joking at the press conference yesterday the last time he checked it was his team with the most demerit points against them, but did counter it with that it was his responsibility to keep his players in check.
It is for this reason that Warner, De Kock, Du Plessis, Smith and whoever else feels the need to “headbutt the line”, need to remember that they are indeed custodians of the gentlemen’s game and have a responsibility to everyone watching it.