Just two days after South Africa thrashed Australia by 231 runs in the second Test at Port Elizabeth to level the three-Test series 1-1, Aussie opener David Warner says the home team may have tampered with the ball to gain some vicious reverse swing. Australia suffered a batting collapse at St George's Park, losing 10 wickets in all of 90 runs, to lose inside four days. The visitors had won handsomely in the first Test at Centurion.
Warner (66) and Chris Rogers (107) were the only Australian batsmen to handle the South African pacers well as Dale Steyn took four for 55 and Vernon Philander bagged two for 39 to send the visitors packing in a dramatic post-tea session. Steyn's reverse swing stung the Aussies badly and Warner was critical about the way the ball was doctored. Warner said the Australian team management will speak to the umpires on the issue of scuffing the ball. (Also read: Graeme Smith praises 'killer' Dale Steyn)
The stocky Australian left-hander admitted that both teams 'worked' on the ball to gain advantage but the South Africans probably crossed the limits. Warner said the Australians would throw the ball on the bounce across the side wickets but added that South African wicket-keeper AB de Villiers went a little further.
"I think it comes down to the umpires warning both teams not to throw the ball into the wicket which you generally try and do," Warner told Sky Sports Radio. "They did it better than what we did, or more obvious than what we did. At the end of the day it comes down to who can do that the best and work on the ball.
"We worked on the ball a lot in England and we got the ball to reverse a lot there and we got the ball reversing a little at home and this time it just didn't work for us because the outfield was probably a little bit moist under the ground and day one it was obviously quite hard to get it to go reverse as well. That's what happens in the game. You have to try and work out how to do that. Sometimes that happens.
"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. That's another thing we have to try and bring up with the umpires."
South Africa were in the news last year when Pakistan accused Faf du Plessis for ball tampering during a Test match in Dubai. Television visuals had showed du Plessis rubbing the ball near the zipper of his trouser pocket. The umpires had to change the ball and also awarded a five-run penalty.
The third and deciding Test match between South Africa and Australia start in Cape Town on Saturday. While the umpires will have more than a job to do, it is going to be a bitter war between the world No. 1 Test side and a team aspiring to conquer the peak once again after a famous Ashes victory.