The Australian players are taking full advantage of the amped-up stump microphones in Durban where they are playing the first Test against South Africa.
As their traditional pre-series ritual, Australia asked the host broadcaster and the match officials for the stump microphone be turned down when the ball is dead as per the ICC guidelines.
However, the players were very much audible on the very second day of the ongoing Test. And the words that they muttered was nothing less than unexpected. Instead of getting under the skin of the Proteas, the Australians started plugging Cricket Australia sponsors Qantas and XXXX during the game.
At the end of the day, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh insisted the ploy did not have any malicious intent.
“I wouldn’t say it was a protest,” Marsh said. “I’d say it was a great opportunity to give our sponsors a bit of a plug.
“Qantas, thank you for getting us here safely. The stump mics really, for us players on the field, are irrelevant,” he added.
It was not the first time an Australian said something like this during a game. In a Test match in Bangladesh in 2006, legendary Adam Gilchrist was heard saying something similar. The former keeper-batsman was heard plugging Cricket Australia and personal sponsors.
“Come on Bing – one for the boys at Travelex now,” Gilchrist had famously said. “Travelex Foreign Exchange boys! Plenty of energy from a Milo Energy Bar. Keep it well oiled with Castrol boys. Come on.”
The stump mic has not caught anything controversial so far. South Africa star AB de Villiers said the usually aggressive Australians have been friendly so far.
“It was quite nice today,” de Villiers said after the second day.
“They were very friendly compared to last time. It’s the usual stuff. We expect some verbal stuff out there when you’re playing cricket in general. It gets the juices flowing. I particularly enjoy it. And from the other side, we also get stuck in and try and unsettle the batters. It’s part of the game,” he added.
Meanwhile, Australia have taken firm command of the proceedings in the series-opener. After scoring 351 in the first innings, the tourists bowled out the hosts for a paltry 162 to end the second day with a 189-run lead.