The Australians have admitted they will target Vernon Philander over his ‘hacked account’ tweet in which Steve Smith was accused of starting the ‘Rabada Saga’.
A tweet was sent out from Vernon Philander’s account last Wednesday night, saying that the Australia captain had used football tactics to ‘milk a penalty’ by causing the contact between the two. Kagiso Rabada was subsequently charged by the ICC for ‘inappropriate contact’ and banned for two Tests.
Several hours later, Philander announced he was not responsible, saying that his account had been hacked, and signing off with the light-hearted ‘Sorry for all the drama or entertainment caused by the looks of it. Have a great day all’.
Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft candidly admitted: ‘If our banter is anything like it has gone this series, I’m sure it will be brought up at some stage to get under someone’s nerves.
‘That’s boys being boys playing cricket – who can hurt someone’s feelings the most. It seems to be a bit that way.
‘I don’t know if he wrote it or if his account was hacked or not. I can’t really say for him. That’s his opinion, isn’t it, and he’s got to deal with the consequences of that now, not us.’
It shows that the Australians are not inclined to tone down their sledging or aggression, which has resulted in two distasteful incidents in this four-Test series. Quinton de Kock and David Warner were involved in a heated confrontation over comments relating to Warner’s wife, in response, it is alleged, to comments about De Kock’s mother and sister.
And then Rabada, emulating some of the Australians’ send-offs, was banned after picking up four demerit points in the second Test in Port Elizabeth; he is appealing the charge for inappropriate contact.
‘The way South Africa play and the way we play, it’s pretty feisty and we certainly push the boundaries a lot, but I think that’s what makes it such a great game for spectators and to be a part of,’ said Bancroft.
The Australians recognise that if Rabada is banned, Philander assumes greater importance as spearhead of the Proteas attack, and their oft-stated aim is to undermine players on the field.
‘Philander doesn’t bowl fast but when the ball is reverse-swinging he’s still difficult to play,’ said Bancroft. ‘Philander is a completely different bowler again. I think that’s what makes them a very difficult attack to face.’
The third Test starts on Thursday at Newlands, with the series standing at 1-1.
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