South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said there was “nothing malicious” in his collision with England’s Jos Buttler in the fourth and final Test between the sides in Johannesburg.
Du Plessis was hit on the pads by a throw from Sam Curran and an agitated exchange with Stuart Broad followed.
Buttler found himself between the pair and was nudged by Du Plessis’ shoulder.
“I don’t think we knew we touched each other,” said Du Plessis, whose side lost the match and series.
“I think that’s part of my character, I’m always involved in a little bit of something somewhere in a game,” added the skipper, whose side fell to their eighth defeat in their past nine Tests as they lost the series 3-1 to England.
“I’m trying to show that fight as the leader of the team, that you don’t stand back to opposition. It’s not like I am looking for it, but if it comes my way I won’t back down. It just happens.
“I don’t think we knew we touched each other. It was just myself and Broady having a go at each other. I think Jos was just trying to get in between to defuse things. There was nothing malicious. It just got a bit heated.”
Root, whose team won with a day to spare at the Wanderers, backed his counterpart and said: “There was nothing to it whatsoever but because of things that happened previously in this series it will be made a big thing of. Honestly, it was absolute handbags.”
An eventful series has seen Buttler fined 15% of his match fee and given a demerit point after using foul language to Philander in the Cape Town Test. Buttler was in turn subjected to a fiery send-off from the veteran seamer in Johannesburg, which saw Philander given a similar sanction.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes had the same penalty in Johannesburg following a foul-mouthed outburst to a spectator near the players’ tunnel.