Vernon Philander has become the second South African in the last nine months to be charged and fined for ball-tampering after an incident during the ongoing Galle Test. Philander was fined 75% of his match fee for breaching clause 42.1 of the ICC's match playing conditions as footage viewed by the umpires after the close of play showed him "scratching the ball with his fingers and thumb". Philander did not contest the charge so no hearing was necessary.
Philander's actions, which "took place in the afternoon" according to an ICC release, were not aired live but picked up when on-field umpires Billy Bowden and Richard Kettleborough as well as third umpire Nigel Llong, fourth umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge and match referee Jeff Crowe reviewed visuals of the day's play.
The charge was not disputed by Philander and he accepted his punishment. It will not go unnoticed that South Africa's pace spearhead Dale Steyn achieved substantial reverse-swing in a spell after tea. Steyn sliced through Sri Lanka with three wickets in five overs in the third session.
South Africa were involved in a similar incident against Pakistan in the UAE last October when they were penalised five runs. On that occasion, television coverage showed Faf du Plessis rubbing the ball close to the zipper of his trouser pocket. The ball was changed on-field and South Africa penalised before du Plessis pleaded guilty to a charge of ball-tampering. He was fined 50% of his match fee.
In that match, South Africa's team manager Mohammed Moosajee explained that du Plessis did not challenge the charge against him because "a full hearing could lead to more severe punitive measure", and explained that du Plessis was only trying to "dry the ball".
Penalties for offences relating to changing the condition of the ball range from a fine of 50% to 100% of a player's match fee to suspensions of one Test, two ODIs or two T20s. At the time of the ICC's release, late on Friday evening, CSA had not made any statement.