Faf du Plessis was charged with ball-tampering shortly after Hashim Amla mounted an impassioned defence of South Africa’s captain in Melbourne on Friday.
During the second Test against Australia in Hobart‚ television cameras spotted Du Plessis polishing the ball using a finger taken from his mouth — in which an object that might have been a sweet was visible.
Law 42.3 states that the ball may be polished “provided that no artificial substance is used”.
Although illegal‚ applying sugar-soaked saliva to a ball is a tactic used to make its shine last longer.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) release said Du Plessis had pleaded not guilty and that the case would be heard by match referee Andy Pycroft.
“The alleged incident happened on Tuesday morning when TV footage appeared to show du Plessis applying saliva and residue from a mint or sweet‚ an artificial substance‚ to the ball in an attempt to change its condition‚” the release said.
As a level two offence‚ Du Plessis could be fined between half and his entire match fee and be docked up to two suspension points and three or four demerit points.
Two suspension points would mean Du Plessis would be banned for one Test.
Details of the hearing still have to be released‚ but it seems unlikely to be held before the third Test in Adelaide — which starts on Thursday — because legal counsel will have to be summoned from South Africa.
But Amla was in no mood to split legal hairs when‚ backed by the rest of the South African squad — bar Du Plessis himself — he addressed the media at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.
“The reason everybody is here is to stand together to show solidarity for something that we thought was a joke‚” Amla said.
“It’s not April but the allegations against Faf were‚ for us‚ a really ridiculous thing‚ and as a team we’re standing strong.
“We’ve done nothing. For us it’s basically a joke. Our boys are here and we’re standing strong.”
Told the ICC were investigating‚ Amla said: “Is it? Whether it is or not‚ we’ve done nothing wrong.
“Faf has done absolutely nothing wrong. I mean‚ I chew bubblegum while I’m fielding. Do you want me to brush my teeth after lunch every time I come onto the field?
“You’ve got to be pretty logical about this. Commonsense‚ surely‚ has got to prevail.
“If we’re standing in the field for two hours you don’t want us to have some biltong in my pocket‚ some nuts or something? There was no malicious intent whatsoever.”
Amla said he did not know that the measure could be used to preserve the ball’s shine‚ saying: “Is that a tactic? I don’t know. I’m not aware of it.
“Is it proven or what? It’s something that’s new to us.
“I’ve had sweets in my mouth‚ bubblegum in my mouth‚ biltong‚ nuts.
“I’m not sure what’s the big deal. To a lot of people this is sounding more like sour sweets‚ maybe in their heads‚ that we’ve played really good cricket. The timing of it is a bit weird‚ too.
“I’m just clear what we think is an absolutely wrongful allegation made about our captain.
“We are standing in solidarity with our captain‚ who has done absolutely nothing wrong.
“If there was any doubt whatsoever we wouldn’t have the full team here.
“It’s actually ridiculous.”
The ICC release landed less than two hours after Amla spoke.
— TMG Digital