Opinion: Warner v de Kock spat exposes Australian sledging hypocrisy... again

If there's anything that can be learned from the recent spats between Australia and South Africa's cricketers these last few weeks, it's that our trans-Tasman neighbours are hypocrites when it comes to sledging.

South African fans making Sonny Bill Williams masks Source: Twitter/Dan Nicholl

During the first Test of the series, Australia's David Warner lost his cool when Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock reportedly bought up the topic of the opener's wife's tryst with All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams 10 years ago.

Having most likely copped all kinds of abuse from the Australians during his near four-hour stint at the crease, one retort from de Kock was enough for Warner and his teammates to insist that the little wicketkeeper had "crossed the line."

For years, the Australians have been the archetypal schoolyard bullies of world cricket, happy to dish it out - but can't take it when the situation is reversed.

Ahead of this series, the Australians had even gone to South African broadcaster SuperSport, requesting that the on field microphones be turned off, meaning viewers wouldn't have to be exposed to the obscenities bandied about during play.

Warner himself has been at the centre of multiple incidents since his introduction into the Australian side, telling India's Rohit Sharma to "speak English" rather than converse in his native tongue, and of course infamously punching England's Joe Root in a nightclub back in 2013.

Legendary Australian captain Steve Waugh coined the phrase "mental disentegration" during his time in charge of the Test side, intending to make batting as unpleasant as possible for the opposition before a ball was even bowled.

It worked too, even getting to the point where South Africa's Daryll Cullinan had to seek the help of a psychiatrist to deal with the nightmares caused by Shane Warne - only to be asked what colour the doctor's couch was the next time the two sides met.

It's probably worth noting that there is a difference between sledging and abuse, with Warner's family being bought into things definitely verging towards the latter. 

Don't get me wrong, there is a tinge of poor form from the South African fans making masks of SBW to taunt Warner, but it would be little different to how Australian fans welcome visiting teams.

Cricket is a competitive game, and sledging will naturally occur when two sides are going at it, especially when two sides as competitive as Australia and South Africa are involved.

Australians have had - and will continue to have - some of the best players that the game will ever see, growing up playing hard, tough cricket, teaching them how to perform when the odds are stacked against them.

However, for Warner and co. to suggest that a line has been crossed in this recent series goes beyond the pot calling the kettle black, it's just plain hypocrisy.