Proteas blanking out 'needle' before Australia third Test

Dean Elgar (Gallo)
Dean Elgar (Gallo)

Cape Town - South Africa are trying to tune out the noise behind the scenes of a bad-tempered series against Australia and focus on the third Test, opening batsman Dean Elgar said on Monday.

"It's been a hectic last two weeks with everything that's been happening behind the scenes," Elgar told journalists.

The chief drama involves fast bowler Kagiso Rabada who on Monday gave his version of events in his appeal against a ban that could sideline him for the two remaining Tests of the series.

Rabada was banned for making physical contact with Australia captain Steve Smith during the second Test in Port Elizabeth.

Cricket South Africa said he would learn the result of his appeal by Wednesday, the day before the third Test starts at Newlands.

"We are just trying to isolate ourselves from that situation. As players we can't influence what's happening. It will be nice to put it behind us.

"There's been so much noise and people have forgotten there's a great Test series going on between two extremely strong and competitive teams."

Players of both teams welcomed the break they had enjoyed after South Africa levelled the four-match series with a six-wicket win in Port Elizabeth last week.

"It's been nice to get some time off," said Elgar.

The Australians behaved like regular tourists during what opening batsman Cameron Bancroft described as "four really important days off" - although he said he would not be in a hurry to get into a boat again after being seasick while shark-diving.

Some players had explored Cape Town tourist attractions such as Table Mountain, while others had gone on safari.

The break over, hostilities are set to resume.

Bancroft told Australian journalists that his team would likely remind South African fast bowler Vernon Philander of a tweet, which the player claimed was as a result of a "hack" of his account, accusing Smith of being "just as guilty" in the Rabada incident.

Elgar said he did not expect Philander to be too concerned about anything the Australians might say. "I think he'll take it in his stride. I'm sure he'll expect them to say something on the field and he'll be prepared for that."

Elgar acknowledged that feelings had run high in the first two Tests.

"There has been a lot of needle," he said. "It comes from both sides and it's what you expect when you are playing against quality opposition. The intensity should be there. I think that's what makes this (Test) format very much exciting."

The match will be played on the same pitch that was used for South Africa's New Year Test against India, which was effectively completed in three days, with 40 wickets falling for only 760 runs, an average of 19 runs a wicket.

The groundsman said the pitch would be less lively than it was for the India Test, although he expected it to have enough pace and bounce to give assistance to seam bowlers, with some help to spin bowlers later in the match.

On Monday the pitch had an even covering of grass, although it was thinner near both ends after being worn bare during the India Test.

"I would like to see this match going to five days, although it depends on the skill of the bowlers," said Flint.

While South Africa sweated on the availability of Rabada, Australia had concerns over their spearhead, Mitchell Starc, who did not bowl on Monday because of what was believed to be a calf strain.

Bancroft said he was not aware of a problem with the tall left-armer: "In the past he's bowled a couple of days out and had that third day as a rest day."

While Starc sat out training, fellow speedsters Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins had a full-scale workout. All-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who suffered a groin strain during the second Test, bowled at a gentle pace but was expected to be fully fit by Thursday.

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