The South African cricket team has had a great tour of Australia so far. The Proteas won the second Test at Hobart comfortably to wrap up the three-match Test series 2-0. This is their third consecutive Test series victory against Australia in Australia.
However, amidst all the proud moments, South African skipper Faf du Plessis was in the headlines of the Australian tabloids on Wednesday for a different reason altogether. The media has come up with footage from the second innings of the second Test where the skipper is seen shining the ball while applying saliva from a mint in his mouth.
The incident happened during the 54th over when Kagiso Rabada came on to bowl with Australia tottering at 5-150. The footage shows du Plessis – with a round, white lolly on his tongue – licking his finger before rubbing the Kookaburra ball, and repeating the act at least two more times.
It is interesting to note the series of incidents that followed immediately after du Plessis' actions. Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Nevill was out the very next ball, fending off a short-pitched delivery to gully. Joe Mennie was given out LBW to a low full toss that swung in towards leg stump in the same over.
The video clearly shows the mint while du Plessis indulges in the common practice of shining the ball.
Du Plessis' actions could well be in violation of the laws of the game. Law 42.3 of the MCC's Laws of Cricket states that a fielder may polish the ball provided that "no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time."
In this case, du Plessis had mint in his mouth while shining the ball and the mint, therefore, can be termed as an "artificial substance".
Former South African wicketkeeper-batsman Mark Boucher took to Twitter and mocked the Australian media for highlighting the footage.
This isn't the first time that the South African skipper has drawn unwarranted attention on tour. Du Plessis was warned in the first Test for deliberately bouncing the ball along the ground to rough it up. He was even fined 50 percent of his match fee during the second Test against Pakistan for rubbing the ball on his trouser zipper in 2013. South Africa went on to win the match the next day by an innings and 92 runs.