Image courtesy of: India Today
“I pride myself on being a morally good person, and that’s why this past week has been so difficult, as people have been quick to label me a cheat”
South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis has insisted that he is not a cheater, despite pleading guilty to ball tampering during the recently concluded second Test against Pakistan in Dubai.
Du Plessis described himself as a “morally good person” and added that he would never attempt to cheat since “that’s not the kind of person I am”.
The incident occurred in the 30th over of Pakistan’s second innings when the on-field umpires spoke to South Africa captain Graeme Smith about the condition of the ball.
After viewing replays of the incident, the umpires established that it was du Plessis who had been rubbing the ball near the zip of his trouser pocket.
Due to his actions, du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee and Pakistan were awarded five extra runs.
After the conclusion of the second Test, AB de Villiers came to the defence of du Plessis, stating that the South African players “are not cheats”.
In his column for SuperSport.com, du Plessis revealed that he was only trying to dry the ball and did not intend to tamper with it in any way whatsoever.
“We all know in cricket that there is a ball to be worked on and kept shiny,” he wrote. “In the UAE, the added element is that it’s incredibly hot and part of the challenge is keeping the ball dry from the sweat of the bowlers. So, in a team you have designated ball ‘shiners’ and ball ‘workers’, and I’m one of them. It’s usually the guys who don’t bowl or who don’t sweat as much as the others.
“There are ways of ‘working’ the ball as much as possible within the rules, such as bouncing the ball on the wicket, trying to bowl cross-seam, and basically trying to scuff the ball as much as possible, naturally, so that it’s easier for the bowlers to grip.
“So, I was trying to keep the ball as dry as possible. As the footage showed, I was on the rough side of the ball, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was working it far too close to my zip. That’s obviously what the third umpire saw on TV.
“But, when the on-field umpires inspected the ball, there wasn’t a scratch mark or anything untoward on the ball. In fact, it was in excellent shape and wasn’t reverse-swinging at all. Basically, the condition of the ball hadn’t been changed, and that’s why I think my penalty was not as harsh as the sentences given out for other similar incidents.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) felt that du Plessis had received a lenient punishment, especially since players who are found guilty of ball tampering can be fined up 100 per cent of their match fee and/or be banned for one Test match or two limited overs matches.
However, Du Plessis noted that he was eager to move on from this controversial episode.
“I pride myself on being a morally good person, and that’s why this past week has been so difficult, as people have been quick to label me a cheat,” he wrote. “That’s not the kind of person I am and it’s not the kind of person I want to be associated with.”
The 29-year-old added that he will be much more alert when drying the ball from now on.
“When someone throws me the ball, I’m afraid to even look at it, and rather just catch it and get rid of it,” he conceded.