International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Chief Executive Dave Richardson has denied South African captain Faf du Plessis’ claims of being made a ‘scapegoat’ in the controversial mint-gate incident. The 57-year old cited the example of former Indian batsman Rahul Dravid’s ball-tampering case of 2004 whilst pointing to the apex body’s drive to eradicate such instances from the sport.
Ironically, Dravid’s episode also happened in Australia during the Brisbane ODI against Zimbabwe. After being found guilty of altering the state of the white ball by rubbing its shiny side with a cough lozenge, he was fined 50 percent of his match fee.
Richardson admitted, “This (ball-tampering) has always been an issue that’s been quite difficult to police. Even before we spoke about using mints and sweets, lip ice – and we’ve been using lip ice and sunscreen on our faces for years, we understand that inadvertently in shining the ball there’s a potential for it to get onto the ball. And for that reason, we’re not going to go around wildly accusing players of cheating and using the lip ice, sunscreen or sweets.”
He explained, “We’ve taken the approach that we will only really charge someone if it’s obviously being done for that particular purpose.There’s two examples in the past – one was Rahul Dravid where he actually took the sweet and rubbed it on the ball. You probably couldn’t get more obvious than that. And in our opinion, this instance (of du Plessis). So if anyone does something similar we will hopefully get to see it, treat it in exactly the same way we’ve treated Faf in this case.“
Faf du Plessis received a 100 percent fine of his match fee after he was found to have breached clause 2.2.9 of ICC's Code of Conduct. While video footage showed him using mint-laden saliva to shine the ball, the stand-in-skipper argued that it was a common practice among all cricketers.
Even though reports emerged of David Warner and Virat Kohli allegedly shining the ball using lip balm and gum respectively, they were let-off as their footage did not come out within ICC’s five-day window. Faf claimed to have been targeted and asked for identical treatment for each case. Backed by Cricket South Africa (CSA), he has officially contested the decision by filing an appeal against ICC.
Richardson, who kept wickets for South Africa in 42 Tests and 122 ODIs during the 90s, refuted his countryman’s suggestion. From being accused of involving in ball tampering by CSA’s head to Hashim Amla terming the charge as a ‘joke’, the incident has caused quite a furor in South Africa.
He believed, “I think it's fair to say I'm disappointed that they (South Africa) don't respect that the laws are there. They are there and the process is not necessarily respected. I was disappointed in the initial comment that this is a joke. But full marks to them, subsequent to that they've acknowledged we attend the hearing, go through the process and follow it. So perhaps that initial reaction I thought was uncalled for, but subsequently it's within their rights (to appeal).”