Warner claims back in the spotlight
Vernon Philander's ball tampering in Sri Lanka has been the talk of the cricket world, and may have especially interested David Warner following the Australian's comments earlier this year.
Philander pleaded no contest to charges of ball tampering during day three of the Proteas Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, and was fined 75 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council.
The conviction for ball tampering comes after Warner sparked a storm back in February when he suggested umpires needed to keep a close watch on the South Africans in the field following the Port Elizabeth Test.
Quick Single: David Warner sanctioned by ICC
Dale Steyn had produced a reverse-swing master class in the second Test of the South Africa series, taking 4-55 in the second innings as he inspired the Proteas to a series-levelling 231-run victory.
Australia had already conceded a large first-innings lead and the spell of fast bowling after tea on the fourth day turned the game decisively. Australia's No.3 to No.7 batsmen compiled just seven runs between them as the tourists lost 9-22.
Warner's Australia team-mates were understood to be furious at the opener for speaking out without definitive proof, especially in the wake of such a chastening defeat.
The day after the Port Elizabeth Test, the Australian told Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast radio program his team would approach the umpires to ask them to keep a close eye on the way the South Africans were handling the ball.
Quick Single: Warner ignites war of words
In particular, Warner suggested Proteas wicketkeeper AB de Villiers was using his gloves to further rough up the non-shiny side of the ball.
Warner was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for those comments and was publicly reprimanded by the ICC.
“It was disrespectful for David to publicly denigrate an opponent when commenting on a match-related incident, and imply that a South African player was engaging in sharp practice. I’m sure David will be careful when making public comments in future,” said ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama.
South Africa coach Russell Domingo hit back furiously, claiming: “We pride ourselves on playing cricket honestly.”
South Africa legend and Sydney Thunder signing Jacques Kallis also hit back, claiming in an exclusive column for cricket.com.au that the scuffed ball that allowed Steyn to bowl a devastating spell of reverse-swing was caused by Warner himself.
"Warner hit the first ball of the 21st over from JP Duminy for six and it landed flush on a concrete slab," wrote Kallis.
Quick Single: Warner to blame for scuffed ball, says Kallis
"Dale (Steyn) told me that it landed right in the middle of the ‘rough’ side of the ball and made quite a mess of it. It was the perfect start to preparing the ball for reverse swing and it was happening as early as the 35th over as a result."
Australia went on to claim victory in the next Test in Cape Town, giving them a 2-1 series win on South African soil that saw them claim the World No.1 Test ranking.
South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis had already been fined for ball tampering in October 2013 during a Test in the UAE against Pakistan, where the batsman was found to have rubbed the ball over a zip on his trouser pocket.
Quick Single: Du Plessis guilty of ball tampering
Match referee David Boon said at the time the ball-tampering charge was warranted for Du Plessis, but also that it "was not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball".
De Villiers, speaking prior to Du Plessis' sanction but after umpires Ian Gould and Rod Tucker hit South Africa with a five-run penalty during the match, was incredulous.
"We're not a team that scratches the ball," De Villiers said.
"We want to swing the ball as much as we can and try to get it to reverse. But we don't cheat."
A series win for the Proteas in their current two-Test series against Sri Lanka would see them reclaim that world No.1 Test ranking.
Australia and South Africa are due to meet in Zimbabwe in August for a tri-series of one-day internationals.
Warner, however, will not be part of the Australia squad for that tour, having already been given permission from Cricket Australia to remain home ahead of the birth of his first child, due in mid-September.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 19 July, 2014 12:57PM AEST