ADELAIDE: Serial ball tamperer Faf du Plessis is refusing to accept he is guilty of cheating, despite being allowed to play in the third Test. The smug South African captain will sensationally appeal Tuesday’s guilty verdict, after being smashed with a fine worth 100 per cent of his match fee as well as three demerit points for ball tampering in Hobart. Du Plessis escaped suspension and will face Australia in Adelaide, but with his reputation now in tatters, the sooky Proteas have determined they will still not accept the umpire’s decision and will drag the lollygate saga on even further. It’s understood du Plessis and lawyer David Becker, who appeared via video link from South Africa, are filthy with the result after pleading not guilty in front of ICC match referee Andy Pycroft. Du Plessis was already a self-confessed ball tamperer having been fined previously for using a zipper to scratch up a ball in a Test back in 2013, however the ICC bizarrely treated lollygate as a first offence.
Despite damning television footage showing he had used saliva from a mint to shine the ball in Hobart, Becker and du Plessis tried to turn the hearing into a forensic case and force the ICC to prove that the practice actually made a tangible difference to the ball swinging. It’s understood the ICC flatly dismissed this approach, and skewered du Plessis based on his flagrant abuse of the spirit of cricket. The ICC deferred to the opinion of umpires who had no hesitation in branding du Plessis guilty. After a marathon hearing that lasted close to three hours, du Plessis looked ashen faced as he walked out of Adelaide Oval with South African security goon Zunaid Wadee by his side – and he is now approximately $2500 poorer and only one demerit point away from a ban, pending his appeal. “Du Plessis was charged by ICC chief executive David Richardson after television footage appeared to show Mr du Plessis applying an artificial substance to the ball,” said an ICC statement. “The (guilty) decision was based on the evidence given from the umpires who confirmed that had they seen the incident they would have taken action immediately.”
It might have been the new-look Australian team’s first training session together, but a throng of media were instead focused on the Committee Room in the Adelaide Oval Member’s Stand where the hearing was taking place behind closed curtains. Sir Donald Bradman used to watch cricket from this vantage point, but today it was turned into a courtroom with all the world watching inwards. South Africa’s arrogant and self-righteous attitude that’s prevailed throughout this bizarre episode was cemented by coach Russell Domingo’s press conference which took place an hour before du Plessis had even faced the music. Despite du Plessis’ insistence that he was not guilty, Domingo gave a stark insight into South Africa’s real defence, as well as going into bat for security guard Wadee who physically assaulted a television reporter at Adelaide airport. The Proteas argument was not that du Plessis was innocent but that everybody else does it, so why should they be targeted?
“Absolutely, you see it daily with those type of incidences taking place on the field,” said Domingo. “I don’t want to talk about the incident too much but it seems to be a daily occurrence on the field of play and they might need to relook into that should they feel it’s not within the spirit of the game.” David Warner says he’d be ashamed if an Australian team carried on like South Africa has during the lollygate fiasco. “I won’t comment on the way they’ve been behaving, I just know from an Australian cricket perspective we hold our heads high and I’d be very disappointed if one of our team members did that and how they’re reacting,” said Warner. “For us it’s about controlling what we can do, and that’s playing the best cricket we can and let them worry about what they’re doing.” South Africa’s only argument appears to be that everybody else in world cricket uses the tactics employed by du Plessis, but Warner said the ICC were right to take harsh action. “The rules are in place for a reason and if you’re not going to use them then why bother having them,” said Warner.
“That’s just the fortunate thing these days they’ve got the rules and they’re going to stand by their decisions. “I think that’s a good thing. We’ve all been on the (bad) end of them from time to time and now that they’re cracking down on it especially with the points system, we as players know the guidelines now. “If you’re going to overstep that mark and get fined be prepared to miss Test matches as well.” Asked if the Proteas felt victimised by the ICC, Domingo said there was inconsistency when it came to how ball tampering is enforced. “I don’t know if we feel targeted, there are other teams that have maybe done similar things and we have looked at one or two incidences that they have done those things and those things haven’t been highlighted,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve been targeted but we have definitely been highlighted. It’s definitely been brought to the attention of the world, it’s definitely been brought to the intention of the ICC and its definitely been brought to our attention although it seemed pretty insignificant at the start of it all. I think quite a lot has been made of it, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”