Cape Town – Anyone recall what happened the last time the Proteas played a Test match … ?
On April 3, 2018, the Proteas ended a successful home 3-1 series win against Australia, but the historic triumph was marred by controversy.
With the Proteas now in Sri Lanka preparing for Thursday’s first Test against their hosts, a quick reminder of how the four-Test series against Australia unfolded.
Australia got the better of the Proteas, which resulted in a 118-run win for the visitors in Durban. However, it’s what occurred off the field, which started the bitterness between the two teams.
CCTV footage on the fourth day of the Test showed Australia’s David Warner pointing and directing a verbal barrage at Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock before he was restrained and pulled away by his team-mates.
Personal insults were at the root of the row as Warner swore and called De Kock a “bush pig”, which resulted in the Proteas batsman hitting back with a comment about Warner’s wife’s so-called tryst with All Black star Sonny Bill Williams.
De Kock and Warner were both fined and handed demerit points by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
In Port Elizabeth, the Proteas levelled the series with a six wicket victory.
This time it was Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada who was in the spotlight over his actions on the field.
Rabada was hit with two charges by the ICC – one for brushing shoulders with Australian skipper Steve Smith following his dismissal and the second for shouting in Warner’s face after bowling the opener.
Rabada was subsequently suspended by the ICC and faced a two-match ban.
The 23-year-old appealed the ‘shoulder bump’ charge and was found not guilty – clearing him to play in the third Test at Newlands.
Smith criticised the decision that overturned the ban allowing Rabada to play in Cape Town, saying: “There was clearly contact out in the middle… The other person involved not getting asked about it is pretty interesting.”
The third Test at Newlands will forever be known as the most controversial Test of the year – if not the last decade.
On Day 3, television footage showed Australian opener Cameron Bancroft using sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball and hiding it in his pants.
Upon seeing the replays, umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth confronted Bancroft, who tried to convince them that he had done nothing wrong.
Bancroft eventually admitted to ball tampering while skipper Smith revealed that he was part of the plans.
Vice-captain Warner was confirmed as the mastermind behind the plan to tamper with the ball.
On the fourth – and what proved to be the final day of the Newlands Test – Smith and Warner stepped down from their captaincy and vice-captaincy roles while wicketkeeper Tim Paine took over for the remainder of the Test.
The Proteas went on to thrash the Australians by 322 runs and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Cricket Australia banned Smith and Warner for a year, while Bancroft copped a nine month ban from playing all international and domestic cricket.
In addition, Smith and Warner were also stripped from their Indian Premier League captaincy’s and were banned from participating in this year’s tournament.
Leading up to the final Test, a decimated Australian side were looking to salvage some pride in Johannesburg.
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland sent the trio of offenders home before the start of the Wanderers Test with Peter Handscomb, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw flying to SA as replacements.
In one final shock decision, Australian coach Darren Lehmann stood down on the eve of the Wanderers Test following the aftermath of the ball-tampering saga.
Australia, led by Paine, could not stop a rampant Proteas side and Faf du Plessis’ men recorded their biggest ever Test victory by margin of runs – 492.
The Proteas thus clinched the four-Test series 3-1, their first home series victory against Australia since readmission.
Fast forward exactly 100 days and the Proteas are currently in Sri Lanka where they are due to play two Tests, five ODIs and a lone Twenty20 International.
Ironically, in the lead-up to Thursday’s first Test, Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal was fined 100 percent of his match fee and banned from the third Test against the West Indies last month after he was found guilty of ball-tampering.
With Proteas’ skipper Du Plessis having fallen foul of the ICC’s ball-tampering rules on two occasions, along with team-mate Vernon Philander’s 2014 fine for altering the state of the ball and Sri Lankan fast bowler Dasun Shanaka’s 2017 admission of doing likewise, Galle will see the unofficial collection of the greatest number of convicted ball-tamperers.
The first Test match in Galle gets under way on Thursday at 06:30 SA time.
Proteas Test squad:
Faf du Plessis (Titans, captain), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Temba Bavuma (Cape Cobras), Quinton de Kock (Titans), Theunis de Bruyn (Titans), Dean Elgar (Titans), Heinrich Klaasen (Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Titans), Lungisani Ngidi (Titans), Vernon Philander (Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans), Dale Steyn (Titans), Shaun von Berg (Titans)