SA captain Faf du Plessis wants tougher action on ball-tampering

01 July 2018 - 20:52 By Telford Vice
Faf du Plessis of South Africa during the 2018 Sunfoil Test Series match between South Africa and Australia at Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on 03 April 2018.
Faf du Plessis of South Africa during the 2018 Sunfoil Test Series match between South Africa and Australia at Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on 03 April 2018.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

You would be forgiven for thinking Faf du Plessis was a poacher turned gamekeeper after his comments on ball-tampering at a press conference in Cape Town on Sunday.

“The have to‚” South Africa’s captain said when he was asked if the International Cricket Council (ICC) should change the penalties for those found guilty of the practice.

“It’s happening too often. They need to do that [change the regulations] as quickly as possible.

“The penalties need to be harsher for ball-tampering.”

Before he fielded questions‚ Du Plessis was briefed by a Cricket South Africa official on Dinesh Chandimal’s situation.

Sri Lanka’s captain was banned for the third Test against West Indies in Barbados last month after losing his appeal on ball-tempering charges.

During the second Test in St Lucia‚ Chandimal used saliva from his mouth — which contained a sweet — to polish the ball: a contravention of the laws of cricket.

The Sri Lankans remonstrated with the match officials when they were told of the charge‚ which delayed play for two hours.

The latter could mean Chandimal is ruled out for the two Tests South Africa will play in Sri Lanka this month.

His hearing on a “contrary conduct” violation — to which he has already admitted — is set for July 10‚ or two days before the first Test in Galle.

If some of that sounds familiar‚ it’s because Du Plessis was done for ball-tempering in exactly the same way as Chandimal during South Africa’s tour of Australia in November 2016.

Du Plessis appealed and lost‚ and has since maintained that cricket’s regulations should make a distinction between methods used to polish the ball — currently no foreign substance may be employed — and altering its surface in other ways‚ such as scratching it.

Australians will no doubt label Du Plessis’ statements on Sunday as hypocritical.

They will also point to the severe punishment dished out to Steve Smith‚ David Warner and Cameron Bancroft when they used sandpaper to roughen the ball during the Newlands Test in March.

Cricket Australia hit all three players with far heavier punishment‚ including lengthy bans‚ than the ICC could enforce under its current regulations.

“There’s too many grey areas when it comes to the ICC and the rules‚” Du Plessis said.

“One‚ you want clarity. Two‚ you want consistency. That’s definitely not been part of that body of laws for a while now.

“A lot of captains have been speaking about it for a lot of years.”

Du Plessis may get his wish: the ICC’s cricket committee recommended in May that ball-tampering attract tougher sanctions.

“Hopefully when they do bring in these new things there’ll be a lot of clarity and‚ most importantly‚ consistency‚” Du Plessis said.

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