Cricket Australia has apologised to the South Africans for members of the crowd who used a green laser to put off Wayne Parnell in the closing stages of Australia's six-wicket win in Brisbane on Tuesday night. In the 18th over of Australia's pursuit of 5 for 157 Michael Hussey hit a relatively simple catch to Parnell at long-off, which he dropped, but television replays showed lights flashing from the stands that might have distracted him.
Peter Young, a Cricket Australia spokesman, told the ABC it was "just not cricket to do this sort of thing … it's stupid". "The South African team has advised that it didn't affect them and they're not proposing to make a complaint. CA has apologised to them that this has happened while they are guests in this country and they have accepted that apology."
He said steps would be taken to stop it from happening again. "We're seeking police advice about what the maximum penalty might be," he said. "Our manager of crowd security is talking to police today just to understand that. If we detect people doing this sort of thing, we will react to the maximum possible extent that we can. We're just taking advice on whether or not we can have charges laid."
MCG events operations manager Trevor Dohnt said he considered the risk to players serious. "If the kind of incident we saw at the Gabba was repeated it could be very dangerous," he told the Herald Sun. "Players sometimes get blinded by the tower lights at night. The ball is up in the air and a fielder is aware it could come into the line of the floodlights. But with a laser the player is not even aware of it and it's coming from a completely different angle."
Parnell, 19, described the moment as "strange". "There was a green flash and it was pretty bright and the light seemed to be pointing towards me," he said. "It was all a bit strange. I only saw it then but maybe it was flashed around at other times, I am not sure."
"I am not making any excuses, I think it was a pretty valiant effort to take the catch," he said. "I wouldn't have caught it anyway. You have to be professional and I guess sometimes you have to deal with these things."
South African coach Mickey Arthur said the team was not bothered by the incident. "It didn't make any difference in terms of the catch," he said. "It didn't make any difference in terms of the result.
"We are confident CA will be sorting that type of stuff out. It's a small issue and we're not going to make a huge song and dance about it. We're just here to play cricket. We don't want to get involved in too many off-field side-shows."