Thank God it isn’t Pakistan being accused for ball tampering this time!
Surprise, surprise! Or not actually. Another year, another Test series, another ball tampering accusation, but fortunately for us, not another countryman. To be perfectly honest, I was kind of relieved that this time around, it wasn’t a Pakistani cricketer at the end of a cricketing controversy.
In fact, not one but two tampering incidents have been making some serious news waves recently. One links the South African cricket team stand in Captain Faf du Plessis while the other involves his Indian counterpart, Virat Kohli.
During the second Test match against the Aussies in Hobart a few days ago, the Proteas captain was clearly seen in a video footage eating a candy and simultaneously licking his finger and then shining the red ball. After a three hour long International Cricket Council (ICC) hearing which was held at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, the skipper was found guilty and fined 100% of his match fee, but luckily dodged suspension of any sorts. Also, three demerit points have been added to his disciplinary record. If he reaches or crosses four demerit points in the next two years, Plessis will likely face match suspension and a possible ban.
The South African cricketer might have evaded the suspension, but his persistent denial of any wrongdoing by not accepting the verdict has taken this saga to another level.
Disappointed with the decision, Plessis insists that he has “done nothing wrong” and ball tampering and ball shining are poles apart.
“Ball tampering, that is something that is wrong — picking at the ball, scratching,” Plessis said in a media conference in Adelaide.
“Shining, all cricketers would say is not in that same space. It’s something all cricketers do and I think there will be a lot of emphasis on where the game is going.”
“I still completely disagree with (the verdict)… I felt like I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not like I was trying to cheat or anything, I was shining the ball. It’s something that all cricketers do. Our mouths are always full of sugar, I think it’s such a grey area in the laws of cricket.”
While the shine was being taken off, the South African wins as Plessis remarked in his presser, another cricketing storm was brewing across the Indian ocean. A leading British tabloid accused the Indian captain Kohli of a similar offence during the first Test of India-England series.
The newspaper published pictures from the Rajkot match, showing Kohli rubbing his fingers inside his mouth, while chewing a gum or mint and then continuing to shine the ball by applying his saliva.
However, since no objection was raised either by the English team or the match referee within the five day window period, no action was taken against the Indian skipper. Many cricketing gurus came to Virat’s rescue by labelling the accusations as absurd and baseless.
Former English Captain Nasser Hussain, strongly defended Kohli and also condemned how ICC handled the ball shining situation down under.
While giving interview to India Today, Hussain said,
“It’s ludicrous really. Much ado about nothing. The whole ball-shining thing with something in your mouth has been going on for ages”.
“I don’t know how you police it. How you say what is allowed and is not. What kind of sweets or drinks (can players consume) during the breaks?” He added.
Indian coach, the legendary bowler Anil Kumble on Thursday quashed the alleged accusations against Kohli, stating,
“It’s like making a mountain out of a mole hill.”
All this tampering hoopla reminds me of the times when our boys also faced the wrath of the cricketing world because of ball tempering allegations. We were accused as serious offenders, not once but on numerous occasions.
The toe crusher supremo Waqar Younis was the first player to ever get fined for ball-tampering and was given a one match ban. Oh and how can we forget Inzamamul Haq and the infamous Oval incident of 2004. Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar weren’t far behind either.
Let’s just put it this way, we should all breathe a huge sigh of relief since this time around, thankfully it’s not us making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Long may this continue.
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