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Did not indulge in ball tampering, insists du Plessis

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Adelaide, Nov 23 (IANS) South Africa's stand-in captain Faf du Plessis asserted on Wednesday that he did not indulge in ball tampering during the second Test against Australia at Hobart, claiming that the practice of using sweetened saliva to alter the condition of the ball is a widespread practice in international cricket.

Du Plessis was found guilty of indulging in ball tampering during the recent Test against Australia at Hobart in a hearing presided over by ICC match referee Andy Pycroft here on Tuesday.

The South African batsman was found to be in violation of clause 2.2.9 of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) code of conduct, which deals with changing the condition of the ball and was fined his entire match fee. He was however, allowed to play in the third and last Test of the ongoing series which start here on Thursday.

Du Plessis however, slammed the verdict, claiming that he has been made a scapegoat.

"Yesterday was the hearing and the verdict was that I was guilty. I completely disagree with that. I felt like I have done nothing wrong," du Plessis said. "There's two ways of looking at it, either ball-shining or ball-tampering. For me, if you talk about ball-tampering, that is something that's wrong. It's picking the ball, scratching the ball.

"Shining is something that all cricketers would say is not in that same space. It is something all cricketers do and I think there will be a lot of emphasis after this incident on where the game is going, what the ICC is going to do about it. I don't believe shining is wrong. It's not like I was trying to cheat or anything. I was shining a ball and I see no problem with that," du Plessis was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.

"Our mouths are always full of sugar. It's such a grey area in the laws of cricket. I just ask that everyone gets treated the same way. I think that's fair.

"Obviously the ICC has taken a stance against me, to use me probably as a scapegoat now, but all you can ask for is that everyone gets treated the same," he added.

Du Plessis admitted that he had a mint in his mouth and insisted that he was not trying to hide his actions. But he questioned why he would have escaped charge had his actions not been seen by television cameras.

"I wasn't trying to actually hide it. I put a massive mint in my mouth and my mouth was that wide open. Whether you shine the ball with a sweet in your mouth or whether you don't see the sweet, and the sweet is still there, it's exactly the same thing," he said.

The South African claimed that he has received a lot of support from both current and former players, including Australian captain Steven Smith.

"The ex-players have spoken about it. It's part of our game. It's been an unwritten rule. Some people use sunblock to shine the ball. I know of people who carry lip-ice in their pocket and shine the cricket ball or gum. So many things. It's just so difficult to say what is right and what is wrong," du Plessis said.

"To say that when you have a sweet in your mouth, it's wrong but when you have a sweet in your mouth and the camera doesn't pick up on it, it's okay. It's just a really massive grey area."

South Africa had wrapped up the Test series 2-0 following their innings and 80 run win over Australia in Hobart last week.

Du Plessis however, lamented that the ball tampering incident has taken away the joy of victory for the Proteas.

"I suppose the thing that's most disappointed us is that we've dominated and played exceptionally well," he said.

"That's taken all the shine away from that -- excuse the pun."

--IANS

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