David Warner © Getty Images
David Warner © Getty Images

The Australian cricket team on Friday laid an official complaint over what coach Darren Lehmann labelled “disgraceful” behaviour by spectators during the third Test against South Africa at Newlands.“You are talking about abuse of various players and their families and personal abuse,” said Lehmann.“It’s not on at a cricket game –- not just here, it shouldn’t happen. You can have banter, that’s good fun, but it’s gone too far here.” The principal target was Australian batsmen David Warner, who was approached by a spectator in the members’ stand after he was dismissed, causing Warner to stop and turn as he climbed the steps to the dressing room.

The pair appeared to exchange heated words with unconfirmed reports saying the spectator was evicted from the ground. Lehmann said Warner was not the only Australian player to face personal abuse. He said the level of abuse was the worst they had encountered anywhere in the world.“There have been various incidents throughout the Test series but this one has taken the cake,” he said. “We have lodged an official complaint with South African cricket and we will see what happens.”

Lehmann acknowledged that Australian crowds had also been guilty of bad behaviour, notably in insulting South African batsman Hashim Amla on a previous tour.“That’s not good enough from an Australian crowd point of view either. We’ve just got to better at watching the game of cricket, supporting both teams.” South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel, who claimed his 300th Test wicket on Friday, said abuse from fans was nothing new.

“When we play in Australia, I’ve played in Melbourne, I’ve copped the same sort of abuse. I think it’s part of the game but there is a line and it’s important not to cross that,” he said. Morkel praised the Newlands crowd, which he said was “amazing” but added: “Unfortunately there is a bit of alcohol and hot sun and those sort of things.” In a statement issued late on Friday night, acting Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe said the events that happened earlier would not be tolerated.

“We have since taken it upon ourselves to beef up our security personnel to ensure that players from both sides don’t have to endure such unfortunate behaviour,” said Moroe. Tensions in the hard-fought series have been particularly high since leaked closed circuit television camera footage emerged of an altercation between Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock on the stairs to the dressing room during the first Test in Durban.