Du Plessis guilty, but not alone in the dock

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FIRST we were treated to footage of Faf du Plessis using a finger to, it seemed, brush his teeth – and work on the ball – during the Hobart test.

Fine. But that finger had been taken from a mouth containing the incriminating evidence of what looked like a sweet. Not fine.

Then more video emerged, also taken during the Hobart test, of David Warner polishing the ball shortly after applying what looked like lip balm to his face.

Not that the International Cricket Council (ICC) had a problem with that.

“We have not seen any footage of David Warner using lipgloss to shine the ball,” a spokesperson said.

“Secondly, as per of the code (of conduct), there is a time limit to lay a charge which runs from the commission of the offence.

“It might also be worth noting that no report was laid by any of the other possible reportees under the code.”

The problem with that is that Du Plessis wasn’t nailed by the match officials or a complaint from the Australians.

All it took to get him into trouble was the footage being aired by Fox Sports.

How Warner’s apparently similar indiscretion, which was shown by the same cameras covering the same match, hasn’t become part of the media frenzy is a question that has yet to be answered.

And there’s more in the shape of images of something – chewing gum? Sugar free? – in Virat Kohli’s mouth as he wet his fingers and slapped them onto the ball.

If you’re wondering whether that means ball-tampering, even though it is illegal, is common in cricket Russell Domingo can put you out of your misery.

“Absolutely,” Domingo said on Tuesday. “You see it daily with, I suppose, those types of instances taking place in the field.

“It seems to be a daily occurrence on the field of play.”

In that case, should the International Cricket Council (ICC) consider bringing the practice in from the cold and make it legal? Or stamp it out completely?

“They might need to re-look at that should they feel it’s not in the spirit of the game,” Domingo said.

And did South Africa, who have been accused or convicted of ball-tampering three times since 2012, feel under greater scrutiny than other teams?

“I suppose there are other teams that have maybe done similar things and we’ve maybe looked at one or two instances that they have done those things, and those things haven’t been highlighted,” Domingo said.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve been targetted but we’ve definitely been highlighted, it’s definitely been brought to the attention of the world, it’s definitely been brought to the attention of the ICC and it’s definitely been brought to our attention.”

Unsurprisingly, Warner took a different tack at another of on Tuesday’s stream of press conferences: “The rules are in place for a reason – if you’re not going to use them why bother having them?

“That’s the fortunate things these days. They’ve got their rules and they’ll stand by these decisions. I think that’s a good thing.

“If you’re going to overstep that mark and you get fined be prepared to miss test matches as well.”

What did Warner think of the South Africans’ response to the allegations, which have included ugly altercations between the team’s security guard and reporters as Du Plessis flashed the media a view of a sweet in his mouth as he walked through Adelaide airport?

“I don’t have any comment on the way they’ve been behaving,” he said. “From an Australian cricket perspective we’ve held our heads high and I’d be very disappointed if one of our team members did that and how they were reacting.”

South Africans will see the hypocrisy in all that. But they have the same right to feel aggrieved as someone who has been nabbed for not wearing a seatbelt even though, all around them, other unbelted drivers get away unpunished.

If you are caught doing the crime, don’t complain about having to pay the fine.


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