Warner v De Kock detracts from real Kingsmead issues
Cape Town - What an absolute dog show.
David Warner v Quinton de Kock, for South Africans and Australians, may have been sport's biggest fight since McGregor v Mayweather.
The latter was worth $400 million and had the whole world on the edge of their seats, while the former was captured on a Kingsmead CCTV camera and was watched by a Proteas skipper in his towel.
Still, for students and lovers of the game and those who have lived this rivalry since readmission, this was as spicy as it gets.
Everyone had a say afterwards.
Adam Gilchrist jumped to Warner's defence, before Graeme 'Biff' Smith duly put the former Aussie wicketkeeper in his place.
Given Warner's far from innocent history and De Kock's cheekiness, presuming that nobody was innocent in this exchange is probably the safest bet.
In the hours that followed, the rumour mill started dishing out theories about who said what.
Warner, apparently, called De Kock a 'Bush Pig'. Classy.
It was then also reported that the Aussies had brought up De Kock's sister and mother, for some reason, while there were suggestions that 'Quinny' had casually reminded Warner of his wife's retreat to a nightclub toilet with a certain Sonny Bill Williams.
Regardless of what was said, it is clear that things got personal. It is also clear that the whole situation was completely void of any professionalism or maturity.
Anyone who has ever been on a cricket field knows that, most times, the chirps are not made up of the most intellectual offerings.
There are many, across all levels, who believe that sledging is a part of what makes cricket, cricket. That may be so, but at no point should things spill over the way they did at tea time on Sunday.
If there was no CCTV footage of the incident, there is a good chance we would not have known about it. It makes one wonder how often altercations like this happen without ever getting into the public space.
What happens on the field should stay on the field, and Warner should surely be thick-skinned enough to know that by now.
You cannot dish out abuse and then turn five when it comes back your way.
It may have made for some entertaining viewing, but Warner v De Kock has only served to detract from what should have been the major talking points to come out of Kingsmead.
Aiden Markram's 143 in the second innings will go down as the Test knock that saw him announce himself. He had scored centuries against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but this knock came in a pressure situation against a quality bowling attack and with his side up against it.
Markram oozed class throughout, and after a difficult little period either side of his short stint as ODI captain, he has re-affirmed his position as one of the brightest prospects in South African cricket.
Still just 23, Markram looks the real deal just seven Tests into his career. He will score bucket loads of runs for his country, and the first Test at Kingsmead will be where it all started.
There was also a return to form for De Kock, who made 83 in South Africa's second innings. With three Test matches still to play, an in-form De Kock is crucial to the Proteas challenge.
De Kock's batting is what we should have been talking about.
Keshav Maharaj's nine wickets in the Test was the other positive for the Proteas.
More important than all of that, though, is that the Proteas were outplayed and now face an uphill task if they are to emerge with a series victory here.
The top order, for the most part, is struggling.
South Africa needs the likes of Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla and skipper Du Plessis to step up in the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
The Australian attack is devastating ... of that there is no doubt. But if the Proteas are to get back to the summit of Test cricket, then they cannot turn out batting performances like they did in the first innings at Kingsmead.
Reverse swing or not, there can be no excuses.
Kingsmead provided enough quality material on the field that should have commanded attention off of it.
Instead, we focused on a changeroom squabble that looked more like a scene from a high school playground.
Beating the opposition will always be the most satisfying outcome, and that is where all of South Africa's focus should be right now.
Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper ...
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