South Africa in Australia 2016-17 November 18, 2016

Tampering claims 'a joke' - Amla

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'Our captain did nothing wrong' - Amla

South Africa consider the ball-tampering allegations against Faf du Plessis to be "ridiculous," and "a joke," and believe their stand-in captain has done "absolutely nothing wrong." That was the message from the team's senior-most batsman Hashim Amla, who addressed the media at the MCG on Friday afternoon, accompanied by the entire South African squad and support staff, who were present to "show solidarity".

Du Plessis was among the group but stood in the background and was not put up to answer any questions. Instead Amla, the designated player for Friday's media opportunity, began in the unusual fashion of delivering a mini-speech to open proceedings.

"Good afternoon everybody. As you can see we have the full team here behind us," Amla said. "The reason everybody is here is to stand together and to show solidarity to what has been something we actually thought was a joke. It's not April. But the allegations against Faf were really, for us, a ridiculous thing and as a team we are standing strong. For us it is basically a joke. The boys are here, standing strong."

At the time, Amla was not aware that the ICC was reviewing footage of du Plessis shining the ball after licking his fingers when there appeared to be a sweet in his mouth. "Is it?," Amla asked when told about the governing body's investigation. "Whether it is or not, we've done nothing wrong and Faf has done absolutely nothing wrong."

Part of South Africa's defence is that players often have something in their mouths on the field, Amla included. "I chew bubblegum while I am fielding. Do you want me to brush my teeth after lunch every time I come out?" he said. "You've got to be logical about this, common sense surely should prevail. If I've got something in my mouth, guys are handing out red froggies at lunch time to give the kids, keep them hydrated, energise them and we are in the field for two hours. We eat nuts, biltong, that sort of thing. There was no malicious intent."

Amla said he was unaware that sugary sweets have been used to shine one side of the ball in order to get reverse swing, as Marcus Trescothick wrote in his autobiography. "Is that a tactic?" Amla asked. "Is it proven or what? That'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 the big deal is. Are you sure it (an advantage) can be gained? We don't know. I can only speak for what my captain has done."

Amla went as far as to say the reaction to the footage could be an attempted to discredit South Africa's dominance in the series. "To me and to a lot of people, it is sounding like sour sweets for people in their heads that we've played really good cricket and the timing of it is that it's a bit weird too," he said.

The visuals emerged the day after the Hobart Test, which South Africa won by an innings and 80 runs to take the series 2-0. Du Plessis had not been reported by the match officials and the ICC were only alerted to the alleged tampering through media reports and then chose to review it of their own volition.

Amla maintained that the entire South African camp were convinced of du Plessis' innocence. "I am just trying to clear what we think is an absolutely wrongful allegation made on our captain. We are standing in solidarity to our captain who has done absolutely nothing wrong. It's pretty clear what we are trying to do you here. As I said, we've done nothing wrong. If there was any doubt whatsoever, you wouldn't have the full team here. We've just basically done nothing wrong."

Less than two hours after Amla spoke, du Plessis was formally charged and pleaded not guilty. South Africa are awaiting legal counsel before a date for the hearing can be decided so it is uncertain whether it will take place before the Adelaide Test next Thursday. If found guilty, du Plessis could face a suspension of one Test.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan88413122 on November 23, 2016, 1:13 GMT

    I do not in any way condone cheating, nor am I saying that is what Faf du Plessis did. I only raise the question, has it been (scientifically) PROVEN to give an unfair advantage to the bowler/fielding team. I am talking about scientific proof (like when they analyse a bowler's action) as opposed to anecdotally. I have only ever hear the "proof" being offered up as written in Marcus Trescothick's book. Maybe it's time to see some scientists aim to prove this one way or the other.

  • cricfan29740470 on November 22, 2016, 10:37 GMT

    Many players chew gum during the game. Will be interesting to see where this ends.

  • cricfan52572218 on November 21, 2016, 12:18 GMT

    What scientific proof is there that mint saliva aids swing? If none then there is no case and Mr. Richardson as a man of the law should no better. This is a unjustifiable action.

  • bundybear55 on November 21, 2016, 8:34 GMT

    If it was a deliberate ploy to aid swing then clearly the message didn't get through to Rabada. The very next ball he bowled a searing bouncer that poor Neville gloved to gully..! The whole thing is ridiculous and for the ICC to have let it go so far is beyond bewildering, but probably sums up where they are at as an organisation. What Faff did was plain dumb, especially given the situation of the game and the fact there are now so many cameras at the ground nothing is going to go unnoticed. The ICC should have instructed CSA to rap him over the knuckles and withhold his match fee for being so stupid. Ridiculous for sure, but not a good look for the game.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on November 21, 2016, 0:56 GMT

    what are the umpires are paid to do again???

    don't they check the ball condition after every over? shouldn't they've noticed a shiny lolly lacquer on the ball !!

    this rubbish. period. umpires don't report it, CA has no issue. yet ICC charges him based on media reports?? maybe ICC head is a S.African and felt obliged to show he is unbiased ?? !!

  • adam787 on November 21, 2016, 0:34 GMT

    Neutral here and in my opinion Faf was bang out of order there.

  • GladStone92 on November 20, 2016, 18:36 GMT

    Well spoken by Hashim Amla. The quietest, softest-spoken person in international cricket thinks this is a farce, which should tell you something. Have ICC subjugated themselves to the Aussie media circus?

  • theCricketPurist on November 20, 2016, 17:27 GMT

    @ahmedesat - I made that comment after watching the footage a number of times. Why is it so obvious that I haven't?! :/ I know Faf is no saint. And I was the first to accept he was wrong when he used his pocket zipper the last time. But i definitely stand by him in this lollygate episode. Btw on that note, I had a question - If the edges of the trouser pockets are made of a coarser texture, so as to aid in scruffing up one side of the ball, will there be any way to catch that? No way cameras would pick that kind of stuff right?

  • VisBal on November 20, 2016, 15:06 GMT

    @Behind_the_bowlers_arm: The Law does not outlaw "outside substances". The Law in fact outlaws "artificial substances". Moreover, the Law does not discriminate between wilful and accidental application on the ball. Hence, the Vaseline case of the 70s was (correctly) judged to be ball tampering. The substance used (Vaseline) is artificial, and though unintentional, the substance found its way to the ball through the individual's hands. Here where we are talking about a natural substance (sugar).

    Law 42.3 (a): Any fielder may (i) polish the ball provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time.

    (b) It is unfair for anyone to rub the ball on the ground for any reason, to interfere with any of the seams or the surface of the ball, to use any implement, or to take any other action whatsoever which is likely to alter the condition of the ball, except as permitted in (a) above.

    I am not sure how one can say "tampering" with a straight face in this case.

  • AhmedEsat on November 20, 2016, 12:40 GMT

    Cricket purist-You obviously haven't seen the footage! Or you wouldn't be making that comment!

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