He would be the first to admit that he has enjoyed the Australian concept of mate-ship – as well as being partial to a few of their frosties – during his frequent trip to the land down under.
But, in a incendiary sense, this does not extend to Mike the Mechanic having the vaguest tolerance for how the Australian national cricket side go about their business and the current tour of South African has had him positively foaming at the mouth.
“It seems to me that one of those more irreversible facts in international cricket is that playing against the Aussies seldom end up as an uplifting experience.
There are always side agendas.
“How can a touring side say before they get on the plane that one of their prime objectives is to go out and upset Kagiso Rabada?” he asked.
“Kagiso certainly has a lot to answer for in the second Test at St George’s. But he is a young, talented and highly aggressive quick bowler who has to learn, like Dale Steyn has, that taking wickets – even if if means intimidating the opposition with the ball in your hand – is the prime objective, not physical contact or abuse.
“But then Steyn, a man Kagiso listens to, is not in the side in Port Elizabeth to keep him concentrating on the major objective.
“The Aussies seem to have been successful in rattling Rabada, who was reported for a serious level two offence for hassling Aussie captain Steven Smith by brushing against him after trapping the visiting skipper lbw for 25 in the first innings.
“From my point of view that was nothing much more than a brush of shoulders, but in a series already full of animosity, it looks like that was enough for the authorities.
“It will be a tragedy if Kagiso misses out on the rest of the series, and even though sentence has got to be pronounced as we speak, believe me that is what is going to happen.
“The young man is one of the most exciting things to come along for a long time, but he has to learn to channel that natural aggression. Do what Steyn does in his jet plane act when a wicket falls and make a wide loop away from the batsman. He has won the main feature, he doesn’t have to step back and fight the prelims.”
With the Proteas in the driving seat after a sparkling 126 not out by AB de Villiers in the first innings – aided by Vernon Philander’s 36 and a 30 of 24 balls from Keshav Maharaj to give South Africa a lead of 139 – a fired-up Rabada went and did it again, giving David Warner a vociferous sendoff after bowling him for 13 in the Australian second innings, this time earning a level one citing.
The Aussies have accomplished what they said they would.
But the Mechanic’s earlier words rang true. “None of this Aussie side will be getting a Christmas card from me … but the I don’t think any of them will worry about that anyway.”