TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THAT Imran Tahir is a passionate player is no secret to those who have seen him bolt into the outfield, arms and eyes wide, roaring as he goes, in celebration of taking a wicket.
But the leg spinner’s passion boiled over at Newlands on Wednesday, when he bowled Aaron Finch and Steve Smith in three deliveries to help SA wrap up a 5-0 win over Australia in their one-day series.
Later in his spell Tahir seemed to take exception to something David Warner had said or done.
So much so that Tahir’s teammates and the umpires had to restrain him repeatedly from approaching the Australian opener, whose 173 earned him the rarity of being named man-of-the-match despite finishing on the losing side.
How had Warner upset Tahir?
“I had no idea what sparked it,” Warner said. “I’m still trying to work it out.
“For the first time in my life I didn’t say anything.
“I think I’m scared of those demerit points.”
New International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations say players who accumulate four demerit points in a period of 24 months will face a ban.
Tahir used up half those lives on Wednesday.
The ICC said in a release on Thursday that he had been served with two demerit points and fined 30% of his match fee for “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”.
The release said “Tahir displayed a lack of respect for the umpires when he ignored their requests to stop by continuing to verbally engage with … Warner”.
Did SA captain Faf du Plessis know what Tahir’s issue with Warner was?
“I haven’t seen him like that but it just shows you how badly he wanted to win the game,” Du Plessis said on Wednesday.
“He realised that David Warner was playing a great knock and that maybe had to get under his skin.
“The two of them had a few words but that’s cricket, that’s competitive nature – ‘Davey’ was trying to win a game of cricket for his country and so was Imran.
“I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Besides, Du Plessis said, the pair made up after Tahir had completed his 10 overs.
“When ‘Immi’ was done they had a hand on each other’s shoulders and said, ‘Let’s have a beer afterwards.’
“That’s the spirit of the game.”
Not that Tahir, an observant Muslim, would drink alcohol.
“‘Immi’ is obviously going to have a glass of water but it’s the thought that counts,” Du Plessis said.
Du Plessis himself was fined 20% of his match fee for maintaining a slow over-rate, a transgression that earned SA’s players fines of 10% each.