Qantas Tour of South Africa

'Hacked' tweet to spark more verbals: Bancroft

Australia opener says visitors won't hesitate in bringing up Vernon Philander's recent social media mishap

Sam Ferris, in Cape Town

19 March 2018, 06:00 PM

Vernon Philander's hacked Twitter account has armed Australia with some fresh sledging ammunition ahead of the third Test in Cape Town, according to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft.

On late Wednesday evening, Philander's account sent a tweet labelling Australia captain Steve Smith "just as guilty" as Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada in the minor collision that has seen the youngster suspended for two Tests.

Philander tweeted the next morning saying his account had been hacked and that he did not send the inflammatory tweet, but it's unlikely the Australians will let the seasoned seamer forget about the social media mishap.

A screenshot of Philander's deleted post // Twitter
A screenshot of Philander's deleted post // Twitter

"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," Bancroft told reporters in Cape Town. 

"That's boys being boys playing cricket. Who can hurt someone's feelings the most. It seems to be a bit that way."

Bancroft added: "We saw the tweet. It was obviously quite popular there for a little while. 

"I can't really comment. 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."

Hazlewood on what to expect in Cape Town

Philander's tweet is the latest instalment in the Rabada suspension saga that began on day one in Port Elizabeth when the fiery quick brushed shoulders with Smith after trapping the visiting captain leg before wicket.

Rabada was charged with a Level 2 breach of the International Cricket Council Code of Conduct, and after unsuccessfully contesting the ruling by ICC match referee Jeff Crowe, was fined 50 per cent of his match fee and handed three demerit points.

Having entered the four-Test series with five demerit points on his disciplinary record, Rabada's tally of eight after the Smith incident took him to the next suspension threshold, which equates to a two-Test ban. A further point was added to his record following a hostile send-off of Smith's deputy David Warner in the fourth innings. 

Cricket South Africa and Rabada have appealed the decision made by Crowe and a hearing will take place on Monday via video conference, with Kiwi Michael Heron acting as judicial commissioner. 

Heron has 48 hours to reveal the outcome of the hearing, which could be as late as Wednesday morning in Cape Town, just 24 hours before the third Test starts at Newlands. 

Rabada banned as Proteas level the series

South Africa have added fast bowler Duanne Olivier and allrounder Chris Morris to their Test squad for the final two matches should Rabada's ban be upheld.

But if Rabada is ruled out, Bancroft expects the hosts to come out firing even without their prolific strike weapon.

"We're not really worried about that at all, and we know regardless of if he (Rabada) plays or not they'll come really hard at us." Bancroft said.

"He has been at the front of a lot of attention recently but he's got a lot of people behind him in the team that play really tough, hard cricket as well. 

"As we saw with Olivier in the tour game (where he took six wickets in Benoni), they've got guys who can play really aggressive cricket. 

"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."

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If Rabada misses the final two matches of the Test series that's currently locked at one-all, Philander looms as the danger man for Australia given his phenomenal record in Cape Town.

The 32-year-old has 47 wickets in eight matches at Newlands, including a remarkable 5-15 on debut in 2011 when Australia were famously bundled out for just 47.

Bancroft says Australia's batting unit can ill afford to take a possible new-look Proteas attack lightly.

"Vernon Philander doesn't bowl fast but when the ball is reverse-swinging he's still difficult to play," he said. "I think all of their bowlers are unique in different ways.

"Obviously, Rabada is very clever when the ball is reverse-swinging, he does have good pace. 

"Morne (Morkel, Rabada's likely replacement) is the same, probably doesn't swing the ball as much when it is reversing – normally – but he gets a lot bounce and that's his strength. 

We'll prepare for everyone: Bancroft

"Philander is a completely different bowler again. I think that's what makes them a very difficult attack to face.

"They're very dynamic, a bit like the bowlers we have as well. That's a great challenge and a great test, and whoever comes in to replace Rabada, if he isn't playing, they'll be exactly the same. 

"We've got to be ready for that."

Qantas tour of South Africa

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights

First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard

Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage