Australia opener David Warner has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee after pleading guilty to a charge of making inappropriate comments about South Africa player AB de Villiers ahead of the third and final Test which starts in Cape Town on Saturday. Warner had accused South African players of tampering with the ball to gain extra reverse swing that ruined the Aussies in the second Test at Port Elizabeth. South Africa won the Test match inside four days to level the three-match series 1-1.
Warner was found to have breached Article 2.1.7 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to public criticism of, or inappropriate comment in relation to an incident occurring in an international match or any player, player support personnel, match official or team participating in any international match.
On Thursday, Warner admitted the offence and accepted the proposed sanction offered to him by Roshan Mahanama of the elite panel of ICC match referees. As such, there was no need for a formal hearing. The charge related to comments made by Warner on Tuesday during an interview on Australian radio.
Explaining his decision, Mahanama said: "It was disrespectful for David to publicly denigrate an opponent when commenting on a match-related incident, and imply that a South African player was engaging in sharp practice. I'm sure David will be careful when making public comments in future."
On Sunday, the fourth day of the second Test, Australia suffered a batting collapse at St George's Park, losing 10 wickets in all of 90 runs. 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.
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 a radio channel. "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 denied these charges but did not report Warner to the ICC.