Netball great's emotional explosion
FORMER Australian netball captain Liz Ellis has launched an emotional attack on South African fans who have mocked David Warner's wife Candice during the second cricket Test in Port Elizabeth.
After footage emerged of the Aussie opener confronting Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in the stairwell on the way to the dressing room during the first Test in Durban, it was revealed Warner was reacting to a personal sledge about the mother of his children.
Both players were charged with bringing the game into disrepute but the ugly fallout has continued in the second match of the series.
Some fans have turned up to the ground on the opening two days wearing masks of All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams to mock Candice for a drunken sexual encounter she had with Williams in the toilet of a Sydney pub in 2007.
To make matters worse, Cricket South Africa was forced to apologise after two of its officials were snapped posing with fans who were wearing the Williams masks.
Speaking on Channel Nine's Sports Sunday program, Ellis said the disgusting furore is made even worse because it's coincided with the week which saw the world celebrate International Women's Day.
The Aussie sporting legend was furious the shameful stunt has given airtime to out-of-date beliefs about women that have no place in society today.
"Everyone is focusing on the sledging. A player's wife is being dragged through the mud because they're attempting to shame her for her past," Ellis said.
"It really does slam home this idea that some Neanderthals have that women are the property of men.
"Do you know what? It upsets me to the core because I think sport is a real driver in society and generally it's a driver for good. You think of all the good things that have happened and been started in sport and here we have an international sporting contest that is essentially saying to women, the message is, 'You come here as a Madonna, you come here pure or you don't come here at all.'
"I don't see fans turning up to All Blacks games with Candice Falzon masks so how dare they turn up at a South African cricket game in masks of the wife of one of the cricketers (because of someone) she was formerly involved with in some way.
"It is disgraceful, it is upsetting."
The defence that what happens on the field stays on the field doesn't wash with Ellis because supporters have taken it upon themselves to drag the storm surrounding Warner and his wife off the pitch and into the public domain.
"My problem is we focus so hard on the sledging we haven't focused on the bigger issue. We haven't focused on the issue of what is being said about Candice Warner has nothing to do with the game," Ellis said.
"Why in the 21st century are we talking about defending a woman? For a reference to her past relationships? The whole thing is abhorrent."
While Cricket South Africa was prepared to apologise, the organiser of the ugly stunt - somehow - was not.
Mark Dorward said the ploy was implemented not to insult Candice, but to unsettle Warner, and he won't be backing down unless the Aussie opener admits he was in the wrong for his confrontation with de Kock.
"It's not about her, it's about David Warner and it's about getting under his skin. We're also not using anything that's false," Dorward said.
"If David Warner apologises to (Quinton) de Kock then I will organise a large apology to Candice."
Former Australian fast bowler Ryan Harris also weighed in on the "disgraceful" attacks, saying he would have reacted the same way as Warner had someone made offensive remarks about his partner.
"It is disgraceful. It has been very unfair for Candice," Harris said.
"As soon as I saw it happen I said to my wife, 'Something personal has been said there' because I know Davey pretty well. He goes pretty hard on the field but in my experiences with him, he doesn't cross that line with personal stuff about opposition players.
"It has to stop. When you mention family and especially girls, it is not the way to go.
"I don't condone the way David reacted and obviously we have seen the apology he has talked about. He went over the top, probably.
"If someone says that about my wife and my kids or my family, I'm reacting in a pretty stern way as well."
Ellis's fellow TV panellists also had their say. Sports writer Peter FitzSimons said it's time for those higher up the chain of command in Australian cricket to step in and put a stop to sledging once and for all.
"Everything she (Ellis) said goes double to me. Australian cricket in itself is not blameless. We invented sledging. It turned into a toxic boomerang. It started 50 years ago. It shames our national name and we have to stop it," FitzSimons said.
"What needs to happen, it happened overnight where the South African chairman and the president both apologised on behalf of South Africa - fantastic. Those guys (photographed with fans wearing Williams masks) need to be severely reprimanded.
"What also needs to happen is Steve Smith, the Australian captain and James Sutherland, the CEO of Cricket Australia, have to say, 'You bastards, listen to me. Hear me and hear me well, we are done, we are finished, no more sledging. Finished'."
Wests Tigers rugby league star Benji Marshall said he believed David Warner was right to stand up for his family the way he did because attacking women has no place in sport, even under the guise of sledging.
"Candice has been dragged through this and for me that doesn't sit well. I have been raised where you don't disrespect women like that. You don't talk about other people's mums, family, race or religion," Marshall said.
"Sledging is sledging. You can say whatever about me or the way I play football but don't talk about the family.
"I don't think David Warner is wrong because he is defending his family which he is sticking up for. The South Africans are wrong. They shouldn't be able to say that about his wife and bring her through the mud."