South Africa captain Faf du Plessis fined for ball tampering


Adelaide, Australia (AP) — South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has been found guilty and fined for ball tampering by the International Cricket Council but will be allowed to play against Australia this week.

South Africa cricket captain Faf du Plessis. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
South Africa cricket captain Faf du Plessis. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Du Plessis escaped a suspension which would have prevented him from playing in the third test against Australia starting Thursday in Adelaide.

The ball tampering charge was brought by ICC chief executive Dave Richardson after television replays from the second test in Hobart showed du Plessis applying saliva to the ball while sucking a mint on the fourth day of the match. This would have given the ball an unnatural shine and weight, and allowed it to swing through the air significantly more than under regular conditions.

He pleaded not guilty but was found to have altered the condition of the ball and was fined 100 percent of his second test match fee or about $2,500. Du Plessis has indicated he will appeal at the risk of incurring a harsher penalty.

South Africa already have a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Richardson told Australia’s Nine television network Wednesday that he charged du Plessis because the ICC wanted to draw a line in the sand on ball tampering.

“Probably in this case in particular, we drew the line,” Richardson said. “We said ‘we need to charge’ because in our eyes anyway it was pretty obvious that he was using the residue from the sweet directly on the ball.

“I think the bottom line is if you want to change the condition of the ball by polishing it, in other words improving it, keeping it, retaining its condition, do so, but don’t use any artificial substance.”

ICC match referee Andy Pycroft heard submissions earlier on when the hearing should take place and decided it should be held before the third test “in the interests of expediency and in order to protect the integrity of the Adelaide test.”

The hearing was initially expected to take place after the conclusion of the series because South Africa indicated they have engaged lawyers on du Plessis’s behalf, making the process more complex than usual.

Pycroft heard evidence from the umpires, the teams and from John Stephenson, representing the Marylebone Cricket Club – the guardians of the laws of the game.

The decision was based on the evidence given from the umpires, who confirmed that had they seen the incident they would have taken action immediately, and from Stephenson, who confirmed the MCC view that the television footage showed an artificial substance being transferred to the ball.

South Africa’s anger at the treatment of du Plessis flared on Monday when a team security official manhandled a television reporter who tried to question the captain when the team arrived at Adelaide Airport.

Security manager Zunaid Wadee pushed away the reporter who had tried to force his way into the group of players to speak to du Plessis. Reporters had been advised that no interviews would be granted on arrival in Adelaide.

In a statement issued later Monday, team manager Mohammed Moosajee defended Wadee’s actions and criticized the conduct of the reporter.

Moosajee said the reporter had “disrespected” the South Africa team by continuing to “harass Faf for comment.”

“The ‘reporter’ was also in the unusual position of being in the middle of the players’ walkway to the bus,” he said. “He was advised to move three times, and did not adhere to this request. The ‘reporter’, who also had no official accreditation, then proceeded to lunge towards Faf with an unknown object causing a direct breach of security protocol. The reporter also shoved the team manager in the back.

“Throughout the tour we have respected all our media obligations and treated media with utmost respect. At the same time, we would like to see this respect reciprocated and will not accept such behavior as displayed by the Channel 9 News reporter.”

Du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering in 2013, when he breached the ICC’s code of conduct by rubbing the ball on the zipper of a trouser pocket to make gouge marks during a test against Pakistan. But under altered rules adopted by the ICC on Sept. 22, the episode against Australia was treated as a first offense.

South Africa coach Russell Domingo said the preparation for the Adelaide test was not ideal, but the squad was united.

“It’s been an interesting few days,” Domingo said. “We have had a wonderful tour here and we have played great cricket. We have had long discussions and our focus now is purely on cricket. Whatever happens with the hearing … our focus is entirely on the test match that is coming ahead.”