South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said on Wednesday he had been made a ‘scapegoat’ by the International Cricket Council and denied any wrongdoing after being found guilty of ball-tampering during the second Test against Australia. Du Plessis, who was sanctioned for the same offence in 2013, was charged last week after footage emerged from the Hobart Test of him applying saliva to the ball with a mint in his mouth.
Cricketers in the field are permitted to, and routinely do, ‘shine’ one side of the ball by applying saliva with their fingers and rubbing it on their uniforms to encourage the ball to swing in the air when it is bowled. However, it is forbidden to use ‘artificial’ substances to work on the ball. After a marathon ICC hearing in Adelaide on Tuesday, the 32-year-old was fined his entire match fee but cleared to play in the series finale in Adelaide.
The ICC verdict was defended by its South African Chief Executive David Richardson as a “line in the sand” but current and former players slammed the decision, saying every team shined the ball in the same way. Du Plessis, standing in for injured regular skipper AB de Villiers, expressed regret that the case had taken away from his team’s series-winning triumph in Australia and said he had never intended to cheat.
“I still completely disagree with (the verdict),” Du Plessis told a media conference in Adelaide in calm and measured tones. “It’s not like I was trying to cheat or anything, I was shining the ball.”It’s something that all cricketers do. “Our mouths are always full of sugar, I think it’s such a grey area in the laws of cricket. “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.”
Cricket South Africa Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat was present at the media conference and said he had asked Du Plessis to reserve his decision as to whether to appeal the charge pending further information from the ICC.