While South African skipper Faf du Plessis is glad that the penalties for ball tampering have become stricter, the ambiguity surrounding the definition of ‘tampering’ per se leaves him confused. Although, the fact that the ICC has come down heavily on the perpetrators in their new sanctions, du Plessis feels, will nudge the game in a better direction.
“Ball tampering is a serious offence,” du Plessis said on Friday (July 6). “If you put something in your mouth and you shine the ball, it’s not as serious – that’s just my opinion. But at least there is that penalty now, so when someone has the opportunity to… has a decision to make on ‘am try and do something with the ball?’, the penalties that are there now are going to make them think twice. So hopefully we will see that part of the game move a little bit in a different way.”
But given that du Plessis himself was found guilty twice of tampering in the past, conceded that he didn’t know what exactly tampering entailed. “I think it’s important to say that I’m not clear yet on that matter [of tampering],” du Plessis added. “The ICC has made the penalties a lot more strict, but they still haven’t said what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. Is chewing gum allowed? Is it not? Are you allowed mints in your mouth? As Hashim Amla said, he likes putting sweets in his mouth when he spends a long time in the field, so there’s nothing wrong with it.
“For me, I need clarity still. I’m looking forward to speaking to the umpires before the game to make sure there’s clarity. I’m sure that Dinesh would as well. We know now that the penalties are much harsher. So what we do with the ball now – as we’ve seen with Australia – things like that, the penalties are going to be much harsher. We expect that we will see less of that in the game.”
After two incidents of tampering in the last five months, the ICC was, in a way, forced to tighten its hold on the punishments, turning it now into a Level 3 offence – in which players could be suspended for up to six Tests – from a Level 2 offence. The Cape Town Test in February, when the Australians Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, were found guilty of tampering with the ball, was all where it began. It was followed by Sri Lanka’s tour of West Indies last month, when skipper Dinesh Chandimal was shining the ball before putting something in his mouth. He served a one-match suspension for the same subsequently.
However, ahead of Sri Lanka’s series against South Africa at home, where on their last tour, the visitors were found tampering with the ball after Vernon Philander had used his fingernails on the seam of the ball in the Galle Test, Chandimal backed du Plessis’s calls for clarity on the matter.
“In the Abu Dhabi Test last year, the heat was more than 45 degrees, and I got 164 runs there,” Chandimal said. “After 120 runs, I had batted for more than a day, so at that time I had felt faint, so the physio came on and it was sweets that helped me to score the remainder of my runs. So at that kind of time, if we take things with sugar, it’s helps our energy levels.”
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