Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann have both been dragged into the sledging feud in South Africa as several Australian cricket legends had their say on David Warner's ugly confrontation with Quinton de Kock.
Both Warner and De Kock have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute for their stairwell altercation on day four of the first Test in Durban, which was allegedly sparked by a comment De Kock made about Warner's wife.
The Proteas have accused the Aussies of being just as personal in their sledging — a claim which was angrily shut down by wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
Warner was revealed to have called de Kock a "f***ing sook" as they left the field on the day four tea break, seconds before the ugly behind-the-scenes altercation took place.
"No-one's played that vision and put the words with it, and it needed to be shown because that's a key to everything. He grinds and grinds away at players until they crack. Quinton de Kock is a really simple lad, he doesn't go looking for trouble, but if you stir him up you might just get a bit. That was so revealing." Courier Mail journalist Robert Craddock said.
But as Warner is put under the microscope, former Aussie cricket captain Ian Chappell said more emphasis needs to be put on the roles of Cricket Australian and coach Darren Lehmann in fostering an environment where sledging is seen as an acceptable part of the game.
Lehmann voiced his unwavering support for Warner in the wake of the scandal, declaring he would undoubtedly remain as vice-captain of the side and said "pushing the boundaries" was part of Test cricket.
Chappell was also critical of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, who he claims is also of the belief exchanging words is a formality within the sport.
"I'm hearing it (sledging) is part of the game — that's rubbish, it's not part of the game," Chappell told 3AW's Sportsday.
"He (Warner) is the one who's going to get into trouble but what about the people who are encouraging him to do it? You go back a few years, he said he was encouraged by the captain and by the coach to do it.
"Then he decided he'd had enough of that, he didn't want to do it, he didn't want to be the attack dog, now for some reason or other he's back as the attack dog.
"I've heard James Sutherland say it's part of the game, he appoints the coach, it's just ridiculous that it's allowed to go on.
"The more you allow players to talk on the field the more likelihood there is something personal will be said.
"Lehmann hasn't got a very good track record as a player (when it comes to sledging) if you delve into that a little bit and he's one who's encouraged it and someone's got to say to him — and that's got to come from above from Cricket Australia — 'Listen Darren, it's not part of the game.'
"But they're all saying it's part of the game. When James Sutherland says it's part of the game where the hell are we? The first thing for me is show me in the law book where it says it's part of the game."
Chappell was also critical of cricket administrators for failing to be proactive when an ominous warning was sounded about the sledging to come.
Smith spoke before the series about his side's plan to get under South African quick Kagiso Rabada's skin in the hopes of possibly getting him suspended. Rabada — who has a history of getting into trouble for his over-exuberant on-field demonstrations — was banned for a match last year and is carrying one demerit point for an incident involving Shikhar Dhawan in last month's ODI series against India.
"How stupid is this? Any referee, umpire, ICC administrator who read the comments heading into the game, the Australians said they might try to ruffle Rabada because he's close to a suspension, so in other words, try and ruffle his feathers, get him to do something so he gets suspended," Chappell said.
"If you're an umpire, a referee, an administrator, you see that in the lead-up to the game surely you've got to call both captains in and say if this starts going on I'm going to come down really hard on the first bloke who starts it and he's going to be in real trouble."
CRICKET'S DIRTIEST STAIN: 'PEOPLE WILL BE SENT OFF'
Warner lit the fuse for a fiery end to the Test when he ripped into centurion Aiden Markram for causing the run out of Proteas superstar AB de Villiers in the second innings.
Warner swooped on the ball at backward square leg and threw it to Nathan Lyon, who took the bails off with de Villiers well short of his ground after being sent back by Markram.
The Aussie vice-captain then exploded, rubbing the young opener's face in the error, and ex-Australian leg-spinner Kerry O'Keeffe said he expects to see red cards come into play in future to rid the sport of what he believes is it's dirtiest aspect.
"The most irksome thing in cricket is the send-off and David Warner has history with this," O'Keeffe told The Back Page on Fox Sports. "When you get a batsman out, he's out. It doesn't make him more out if you swear at him and shout at the guy that may have caused the run out as he did with Aiden Markram.
"I think the day is close that a red card will be justified. People will be sent off because cricket has to regain its manners, it's now an ill-mannered game and unfortunately we are at the forefront of that. Our manners on the field are terrible.
"Rather than just accept it was a great bit of fielding David Warner just attacked Markram thinking he'd get under his skin.
"We've got to rediscover our manners."
CAPTAINS IN THE FIRING LINE
Smith said following the Test it was important for his troops to be aggressive and back each other up — again, as long as it doesn't cross any line. Former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson said it may not be long before he and counterpart Faf du Plessis are penalised for their teammates' indiscretions because the skippers are charged with upholding the spirit of cricket.
"There's got to be some responsibility taken and the laws of the game puts the onus on the captains ... to actually be on top of this," Lawson said on the Big Sports Breakfast. "They are actually responsible for carrying the spirit of cricket so it's pretty clearly laid out.
"If this is not sorted out by the ICC at this hearing I reckon what you do is you charge both captains and then you see what happens. You say, 'You guys aren't doing your job, you're charged and if this is proven then you'll be suspended.'
"I reckon that'll get some action."