CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Australia opener David Warner’s claim that South Africa tampered with the ball during the second test has “added 10 percent motivation” ahead of the series decider, Proteas coach Russell Domingo said on Wednesday.
Warner told Sky Sports Radio the Australians felt AB de Villiers had used his wicketkeeper gloves to rough up one side of the ball, helping their bowlers gain reverse-swing during South Africa’s crushing 231-run victory on Sunday.
“We were actually questioning whether or not AB de Villiers would get the ball in his hand and, with his glove, wipe the rough side every ball,” the left-hander told Sky Sports Radio.
“That’s another thing we have to try to bring up with the umpires.”
Domingo dismissed the comments and said it gave his side extra motivation to claim a first home series win over Australia in 44 years in the decider at Newlands starting on Saturday.
“It’s disappointing when guys throw these accusations around, it’s added an extra 10 percent motivation to the guys following the comments he has made,” Domingo told reporters.
“We pride ourselves on playing the game as hard as we can, but also in a fair manner. I just don’t think it is a nice comment to make, I don’t think teams should be accusing other sides of that.”
Proteas manager Mohammed Moosagee also rejected Warner’s complaint as “sour grapes” and said few people took the outspoken Australian’s words seriously.
“David Warner’s remarks are disappointing and discouraging. It takes the gloss off a great Proteas team performance, having come back from losing the first test and then going on to win the next,” Moosagee told South African newspaper DFA.
“It smacks of sour grapes and it could just be a tactical plan to get us involved in matters that will distract our attention from this crucial test in Cape Town,” he said.
The Proteas would not seek any action against Warner, who followed up his first innings 70 with a belligerent 66 in the second, and would leave it to the game’s governing ICC to look into the remarks, Moosagee added.
Turning to Australia’s bowling, Domingo said South Africa had mastered Mitchell Johnson after restricting the quick to three wickets in the second test.
Johnson blitzed the opposition batsman as he took 12 wickets for 127 runs in Australia’s impressive 281-run victory on a lively wicket in the first test in Pretoria.
However, his wickets came at over 40 runs each in Port Elizabeth, where the slower pitch took much of the venom out of his deliveries.
He also failed to find the reverse-swing that Dale Steyn used to rip through the Australian batting lineup on Sunday.
Australia, chasing a 448-run victory target, cruised to 126 for no loss before being undone by a devastating spell from Steyn as South Africa levelled the three-match series at 1-1.
”Mitchell is a wonderful bowler and he has been in great form for a number of months,“ Domingo said. ”But a lot of our discussions before PE were on how well we have done against him in the past.
“We can take a lot of confidence from how we played him in PE, but in the back of your mind you also know he is the kind of guy who can turn a session around.”
Domingo said he had not requested any particular kind of wicket at Newlands and at first glance it should be a good contest between bat and ball.
“It looks a good wicket, we would probably want to keep a bit more moisture in it over the next couple of days,” he said.
“It looks like the kind of wicket you could play on tomorrow. We have not asked for anything, we just want a good cricket wicket.”
Additional reporting by Amlan chakraborty; Editing by John O'Brien and Josh Reich