International Cricket Council (ICC) Match referee Jeff Crowe has termed the recently concluded Test between South Africa and Australia as the most ill-tempered series he has ever seen in his 14 years long refereeing career.
Crowe, who represented New Zealand in 39 Tests and 75 One Day Internationals between 1983 and 1990, was the match official during the controversial Test series in South Africa, which won by the hosts.
This series witnessed the several on-field clashes, including Kagiso Rabada-Steve Smith bump, between the players of both sides, and even ended with Australian captain Smith, Vice-captain David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft banned for the ball-tampering conduct by their Cricket Board.
Crowe's report to the ICC read by the BBC says, “Never in my 14 years of refereeing have I seen such animosity between two teams that was mainly a result of the debacle in the previous test in Durban.”
It further reads, “This I have no doubt is a contributing factor to the events that occurred under this COC (code of conduct) charge.”
Following the ball-tampering scandal, Smith and Warner were handed 12-month bans, and Bancroft was banned for nine months after caught using sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Besides this, Warner and Quinton de Kock were engaged in a scuffle at stairwell during the first Test, and for which they were fined, and then Proteas young pacer Rabada was also handed two-match suspension by ICC for rubbing shoulder to Smith during the second Test.