Charge opens 'can of worms': Du Plessis

ADELAIDE • South Africa captain Faf du Plessis insisted yesterday that he was not a cheat and warned that cricket authorities had opened a "can of worms" after he was found guilty of ball-tampering in controversial circumstances.

The 32-year-old was fined his match fee on Tuesday after being caught on camera sucking a mint and rubbing saliva onto the ball during last week's second Test against Australia in Hobart.

But du Plessis, who won backing from leading figures including Australian captain Steve Smith, said he did not think he had done wrong.

"I completely disagree with that (decision). I feel like I've done nothing wrong... it's not like I was trying to cheat or anything," he said.

"For me (ball-tampering) is picking the ball, scratching the ball. Shining the ball, I think all cricketers would say, is not in the same place."

Du Plessis argued the science was unclear about the effects of rubbing sweetened saliva on a ball, and said it was impossible to police such a rule given the drinks, sweets and chewing gum that players use on the field.

Previous ball-tampering cases have involved the use of dirt, fingernails and beer-bottle tops to rough up the ball and alter its flight in the air.

"I just think it's opened up a can of worms," du Plessis added.

"Something like this needed to happen to create a bit more awareness around it. Obviously the ICC (International Cricket Council) has taken a stance against me, to use me as a scapegoat."

Du Plessis escaped a ban at Tuesday's hearing and is free to lead the Proteas today in the third Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Following the incident, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the custodians of cricket's laws, is considering whether to tighten the law on ball-tampering.

Fraser Stewart, MCC's head of laws, said: "We are looking at this to investigate whether the wording can be tightened up to perhaps be a bit clearer. At the same time, it is difficult to do something that is totally prescriptive."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Charge opens 'can of worms': Du Plessis'. Print Edition | Subscribe