Du Plessis de­nies cheat­ing, says made ‘scape­goat’

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

South Africa cap­tain Faf du Plessis said yes­ter­day 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. “I felt like I’ve done noth­ing wrong. “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.

“I just ask for 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.”

Sit­ting be­side Du Plessis, Cricket South Africa Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Ha­roon Lor­gat said he had asked the skip­per to hold off from ap­peal­ing the charge pend­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion from the ICC.

“We will pick up this topic with the ICC,” Lor­gat, a for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the sport’s global gov­ern­ing body, said. “It’s a big aca­demic de­bate about this. “I am per­son­ally aware of the per­va­sive­ness of this issue. I get stories told all the time.” South Africa wrapped up the se­ries 20 by thrash­ing Aus­tralia by an in­nings and 80 runs in Ho­bart last week, with the tour­ing side’s bowlers dom­i­nat­ing.

“I sup­pose the thing that’s most dis­ap­pointed us is that we’ve dom­i­nated and played ex­cep­tion­ally well,” said Du Plessis.

“That’s taken all the shine away from that, ex­cuse the pun,” he added, break­ing into a wry smile as re­porters chuck­led.

Du Plessis was backed by Aus­tralia cap­tain Steve Smith, who de­nied his team had ever com­plained about the tac­tic.

“I’ve seen Faf’s com­ments in his press con­fer­ence ... We along with every other team around the world shine the ball in the same way,” Smith told re­porters.

The charge laid by Richard­son last week an­gered the South African camp, as did the close at­ten­tion from lo­cal jour­nal­ists, one of whom clashed with a team se­cu­rity guard at Ade­laide Air­port after the Proteas touched down on Mon­day. “Thanks for all the love last week,” Du Plessis said with irony to re­porters. “What hap­pened at the air­port was pretty dis­ap­point­ing ... Be­cause I was never re­ally go­ing to be ble to give any an­swers (be­fore the hear­ing).

“I did feel there was a sense of (the me­dia) look­ing for a re­ac­tion.” — Reuters

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