Both captains claimed they weren’t going to talk about David Warner on Friday; both went on to dedicate a fair bit of time to talking about him.
“He’s becoming a little bit of a rent-a-quote,” South Africa’s Graeme Smith offered.
“He’s a tough bugger, there’s no doubt about it, and he’ll love the challenge he faces when he walks out onto that ground,” was Michael Clarke’s assessment of his Australia teammate.
Warner grabbed the headlines in the lead-up to the third and decisive test at Newlands starting on Saturday when he accused South Africa of underhand ball-management tactics during its 231-run win in the second test.
He was fined 15 percent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council, after telling a Sydney radio station: “We were actually questioning whether or not A.B. de Villiers would get the ball in his hand and with his glove wipe the rough side every ball.”
Clarke said he wanted to focus on the forthcoming test, but admitted he had shared his mind with the left-hander.
“The ICC have dealt with it. We’ve dealt with it in-house,” Clarke said. “I’ve also made very clear to David how disappointed I was, and am, with his comments, and at the appropriate time I will catch up with Graeme and make it clear to him how I feel about it.”
Smith backed up South Africa coach Russell Domingo’s sentiment that Warner’s slur would only spur the Proteas as they attempt to beat Australia in a series at home for the first time since readmission.
“We’ve lost one series in eight years or something like that which is a pretty successful run, and I think that needs to be embraced and enjoyed,” Smith noted.
“If we go on to win this test match it’s another big steppingstone in what this team has been able to create. It would be a big feather in our hat.”
A resurgent Australia side, meanwhile, knows that how it bounces back from its first defeat in six tests could define just how rosy its future becomes.
“Even to sit in the position we are right now is a really satisfying feeling for this group, knowing that we’re one-all going into the third test against the No. 1 team in the world in their own backyard,” Clarke said.
“I think that’s a fantastic achievement from this group.
But we didn’t come here to lose, that’s for sure.”