That spat: Who crossed which line and do we really care?
Baffling words behind De Kock and Warner bust-up
Ottis Gibson spent 400 words talking to reporters about cricket at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, which isn’t surprising considering the second Test between South Africa and Australia starts there on Friday.
He spent twice as many words talking about aggression, the role of umpires in maintaining player discipline, and “the line”.
“There’s this thing I have seen it recently about the line,” Gibson said.
“[Australia] are saying they didn’t cross the line but where is the line?
“Who sets the line?
“Where did the line come from?
“When you are saying you didn’t cross the line but, oh no, we didn’t cross the line.
“You went very close to the line but you didn’t cross it.
“Whose line is it?
“We don’t have a line — we try to just play cricket.”
Last week, Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon told reporters that “we know where the line is. We headbutt it, probably. But we are not going to go over the line.”
Whatever and wherever “the line” is, it’s central to the ugly scenes that unfolded as the players left the field for tea on the fourth day of the first Test at Kingsmead on Sunday.“You f**king sook,” David Warner can be heard saying to Quinton de Kock in video posted online on Wednesday as the latter lays his bat and gloves at the boundary.
Urbandictionary.com defines sook as “an Australian slang term used to indicate another person who is soft, easily upset …”
Security camera footage that emerged on Monday showed Warner in an angry altercation with De Kock as the players walked up the stairs to the dressing room.
Warner’s tirade can’t be heard but his teammates are seen physically restraining him from approaching De Kock.
On Wednesday Warner declined to contest a level two charge for bringing the game into disrepute.
He was fined 75% of his match fee and docked three demerit points — four would have seen him banned for the second test.
And that, as far as the Aussies are concerned, is that.“David’s accepted responsibility for what happened,” Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine said on Wednesday.
“David has accepted his punishment and we’re ready for this next Test.”
De Kock has also been charged with bringing the game into disrepute, but as a level one offence.
That could earn him a fine of 50% of his match fee and two demerit points.
Unlike Warner, he tried to clear his name at a hearing in Port Elizabeth later on Wednesday. That differs from South Africa’s response in similar circumstances previously, when to avoid heavier penalties they haven’t contested charges even though they have maintained their innocence.
“We are contesting level one because we think Quinny didn’t do anything; Quinny wasn’t aggressive,” Gibson said.
“The footage showed Quinny walking up the stairs and somebody else being restrained, and then Quinny gets a level one. That doesn’t seem fair.
“If I am walking, trying to get back to my dressing room, and somebody is being restrained how can you fine me for something?”
The South Africans aren’t denying that De Kock did exchange words with Warner. But they aren’t saying what their man said, except that it was in retaliation.“It takes a strong character to stand up and bat for three hours when everybody on the field is saying whatever they want to say to you,” Gibson said.
“But then, as soon as you respond, then it’s a different thing.
“Quinny would not have said anything had something not been said to him in the first place.”
Gibson questioned whether verbally engaging opponents was legitimate aggression.
“If a bowler has tried everything he can to get a batsman out and he can’t get him out because a batsman is playing well and then they have to revert to that, then is it aggression?
“I don’t think that it is.”
Gibson suggested the umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and Sundaram Ravi, should have kept a stronger hand on the situation.
“The match officials are there to do a job and to govern the game on the field, and off the field I guess.
“If they hear things on the field they should clamp down on it.
“It becomes unfortunate when everybody else hears stuff and the match officials say they haven’t heard anything.
“They are there to do a job and they must do their job.
“If the player is standing at point or wherever he is fielding, surely the umpires can hear.
“Maybe the umpires need to stand up and take control of the game.”
Were the South Africans unhappy with the umpires’ lack of action?
“Unhappy might not be the right word,” Gibson said.
“When they hear things they must take charge.
“Can you say whatever you want and then when something is said it’s offensive?”
There’s a line in there somewhere.