Faf facing tampering bouncer

ICC probing possible interference with ball

Stand-in Proteas test captain Faf du Plessis faces a nervous wait as the International Cricket Council investigates him for possible ball tampering.

Du Plessis could land in hot water after footage emerged of him applying saliva to the ball with a sweet in his mouth.

The video was taken during the second test in Hobart where South Africa took an unassailable 2-0 lead.

It shows Du Plessis with a white sweet in his mouth, licking his finger vigorously before shining the ball.

Employing sugary sweets to enhance or protect the ball’s shine is a decades-old trick that is in a grey area of cricket’s laws.

In terms of law 42.3, players are allowed to apply naturally produced bodily substances like sweat or saliva to the ball, but they may not use artificial aids.

Clearly, sugary sweets are artificial.

Just as clearly, players’ saliva would have to be tested before the start of play in every match and after every interval if the law was to be properly observed.

The match officials had 18 hours after the match to take action, and they have not.

South African team management said late yesterday the ICC had not “raised any concerns with us”.

But the ICC said the matter was being reviewed in Dubai.

The organisation has a five-day window after the end of a test during which it can lay a charge.

“The ICC has been alerted to the footage and is reviewing the incident from the perspective of it being a possible breach of the ICC code of conduct,” an ICC spokesman said.

This is not the first time Du Plessis has come under the spotlight for ball issues and the tactic seems to be like those used by England during the 2005 Ashes series to enhance the ball’s swing.

England escaped sanction then, but there is an MCC cricket law which says a fielder may shine a ball provided that no artificial substance is used.

In 2013, Du Plessis was fined for rubbing the ball on a trouser zipper during a test against Pakistan.

Match referee David Boon said at the time he was satisfied Du Plessis’s actions were not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball.

He was cautioned by both umpires in Perth earlier this month during the first test regarding his fielders bouncing their returns to the wicketkeeper – a tactic intended to rough up one side of the ball and achieve reverse swing.

Du Plessis said that had been blown out of proportion.

“We were watching the first innings and they got the ball to reverse in the 25th over. To say it was only for us is not true,” he said.

Meanwhile, South Africa have indicated AB de Villiers will take over from Du Plessis as test captain when the team returns home.

De Villiers is at home recovering from elbow surgery.

He will probably play in the test series against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park from December 26