AFTER David Warner accused Quinton de Kock of a "vile, disgusting" sledge about his wife in the first cricket Test between Australia and South Africa, some fans took it upon themselves to mock the Aussie opener's partner at the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
Photos emerged prior to day one of South African supporters preparing masks of rugby star Sonny Bill Williams. They were made to taunt Candice Warner - nee Falzon - about her drunken sexual encounter with the All Black in the bathroom of a Sydney pub in 2007.
The distasteful stunt took an ugly turn when two Cricket South Africa executives were photographed posing alongside fans wearing the masks of Williams on day one, Fairfax Media reports. Head of commercial and marketing Clive Eksteen and head of communications Altaaf Kazi were snapped smiling next to three men with Williams masks on.
Per the report, the spectators with the masks were initially refused entry by security before Eksteen and Kazi intervened to allow them into the ground
"They're fans," Kazi told Fairfax. "They wanted to come with them. People come in dressed as all sorts of things. We let people in with Hashim Amla beards.
"We're very clear from a stadium perspective that we monitor the behaviour and language of fans."
The Australian cricket writer Peter Lalor called the incident a "disgraceful new low" while South African cricket writer Telford Vice slammed fans for wearing the masks.
"Those South Africans who have shown themselves to be no better than Warner by trying to engage with him on his own pitiful level - perhaps they‚ like him‚ know no other way - disgrace all of us along with themselves," Vice wrote for the Times Live.
"They disgrace men. They disgrace cricket followers. They disgrace South Africans. They disgrace the human race.
"Do they get that what they have done is stupid and embarrassing and not at all funny?
"Good on them. They must be so proud."
Former Aussie one-day player Jimmy Maher also blasted the stunt and called on officials to put an end to the unnecessary personal attacks.
"It's absolutely ridiculous to see that sort of behaviour allowed to continue," Maher told Fox Sports News. "It's getting really personal now and it needs to stop.
"We don't need to see that sort of stuff.
"That's very cruel and very personal and I don't think it should be allowed to happen.
"It's crazy when you've got young kids and a family of your own and you're trying to play a sport. It needs to be stamped out."
The unsavoury development will likely strain relations between the two countries further after a spiteful first Test that saw Warner and de Kock penalised for bringing the game into disrepute.
Warner had to be restrained by teammates in a stairwell on the way to the dressing room in Durban as he reacted angrily to de Kock's sledge about his wife.
Australia endured a tough opening day to the second Test, suffering a dramatic collapse as it went from 0/98 to all out for 243. Warner top scored for the tourists with 63 while Kagiso Rabada was the home side's best with the ball, taking 5/96 from 21 overs.
In reply the Proteas went to stumps at 1/39 after Pat Cummins trapped Aiden Markram LBW for 11.
Earlier, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland admitted the Australian team's behaviour in Durban was unacceptable, but Warner's grip on the vice-captaincy appears safe in the wake of his staircase stoush with de Kock.
Warner has issued a public apology to fans and CA is now ready to draw a line under the saga.
CA's board met on Friday for the first time since the ugly incident that has overshadowed the Test series in South Africa.
It's understood player behaviour was not the focus of the meeting, and speculation that Warner - who was incredibly vocal during last year's pay dispute - could be stripped of his leadership post was privately dismissed. But ahead of the second Test, Sutherland warned that the Australian public expects better from players.
"CA has reminded the team of the standards of behaviour expected of players representing Australia," Sutherland said in a statement.
"Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its laws, but also within the spirit of the game.
"This includes the need to be respectful of opponents, and CA expects this to be observed by players at all times.
"Unfortunately neither team met this standard in Durban. The Australian team understands that fans expect better."
Warner was fined approximately $13,500 and slapped with three demerit points after being charged by the ICC with bringing the game into disrepute. It means the opener will automatically cop a suspension if charged by the ICC during the next two years.
"I just want to apologise for the way it played out. I regret that situation that happened. I'm sorry for the people I may have let down, our fans and people back home, and even my family," Warner said in a video on cricket.com.au.
"But at the end of the day, when there's a vile comment that's made I'll keep continuing to stick up for my family because that's the most important thing to me."
Warner's rampage has added another chapter to a long-running public debate on the national team's behaviour.
"Australia has always prided itself on taking a highly competitive approach to international cricket," Sutherland said.
"This will not change, however CA is confident that what occurred in Durban will remain an aberration.
"Under the period of the current team leadership, Australian players have received fewer sanctions under the ICC Code of Conduct than players from the majority of the nine top-ranked Test playing nations."
Coach Darren Lehmann and captain Steve Smith have offered public support for Warner, whose image has taken a hit just one month after he led Australia to T20 tri-series success.
The early stages of Warner's career were marred by a series of incidents, most notably a bar-room scrap with Joe Root in 2013, but his behaviour has since improved.
- with AAP
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