Cape Town - Adding to the tension of Tuesday's final day of the second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands, visiting wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler was caught on live TV calling Proteas veteran Vernon Philander a "fucking knobhead".
With the intensity turned up to the maximum as South Africa desperately tried - but ultimately failed - to hold out for a draw, Buttler was involved in a heated one-way tirade with Philander, who is retiring from the international arena after the series.
Buttler took exception to Philander getting in his way as he attempted to gather a throw from a fielder at mid-off and launched into an expletive-ridden rant.
Buttler's choice words were heard over the stump microphone, where he appeared to shout: "Fucking move. Fucking knobhead".
Buttler was also heard telling Philander it was hard for the ball to "get past that fucking gut".
Buttler continued his verbal spray at a stunned Philander, but it wasn't picked up by the microphone. Man of the match Ben Stokes, fielding at first slip, also had a say, but it isn't clear from the audio what he said.
Commentator, and former England opener and captain, Michael Atherton, offered a hasty apology for the foul language heard on TV.
England were just three wickets away from sealing victory at the time of the bust-up, but would go on to wrap up the Proteas' tail, winning the Test by 189 runs and squaring the series at 1-1 with the third - of four - matches scheduled for St George's Park in Port Elizabeth from January 16-20.
Philander contributed a gutsy 51-ball, eight runs in his final match at his Newlands 'home'.
The final Test will be played at the Wanderers in Johannesburg from January 24-28.
England skipper Joe Root played down the incident after the Test, saying ill-feeling would not sour relations between both teams.
"I don't think it was anything serious," Root said.
"It was just two guys playing hard Test cricket. Emotions were running quite high and I don't think anyone overstepped the mark. You want a bit of spice on the TV anyway, don't you?"
Former Proteas batsman Herschelle Gibbs also had no problem with Buttler's actions, taking to Twitter to write: People questioning joss buttler giving Vernon a spray,international cricket isn’t an audition for the church choir?? #bigboypants
South African-born England great, Kevin Pietersen, also added his two cents' worth, suggesting the incident is nothing compared to what goes on, on the field.
At the time of writing, there's no indication whether Buttler will face an ICC fine or ban.
People questioning joss buttler giving Vernon a spray,international cricket isn’t an audition for the church choir?? #bigboypants— Herschelle Gibbs (@hershybru) January 8, 2020
LOTS having a go at @josbuttler here!— Kevin Pietersen?? (@KP24) January 8, 2020
LEAVE HIM ALONE!
This is Test Cricket and believe me, this is nothing compared to lots that goes on, on the field.
Series is alive big time!
END OF! pic.twitter.com/vSh4zDL1AY