Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis. Image Credits: Getty Images

Last Update on: October 23rd, 2022 at 10:31 am

Former South African captain Faf du Plessis has said that the Proteas suspected Australia of ball-tampering well before the ‘Sandpapergate’ controversy broke. 

News Corp got portions from the 38-year-book, old’s ‘Faf: Through Fire,’ which is set to be published on October 28. 

According to Faf du Plessis, the South African team began spying on Australian fielders in the changeroom with binoculars due to concerns of ball tampering. 

We Knew Something Was Suspicious: Faf du Plessis

Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith
Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith (PC-Twitter)

He said that South Africa suspected Australia of ball tampering from the first Test of the series, which News Corp claims Australian sources “vehemently refute.” 

“During the first Test in Durban, the Australian pace attack had got the ball to reverse insanely,” du Plessis writes. 

“Mitchell Starc claimed nine wickets and, although I regard him as one of the best proponents of reverse-swing bowling I have ever seen or faced, those deliveries in Durban were borderline unplayable. 

“He would come in around the wicket with a badly deteriorated ball and get it to hoop past us. 

“Our balls had also reversed but not nearly as much as theirs. 

“We suspected that someone had been nurturing the ball too much to get it to reverse so wildly, and we watched the second Test at St George’s through binoculars, so that we could follow the ball more closely while Australia was fielding. 

“When we noticed that the ball was going to David Warner quite often – our changing room must have looked like a birdwatching hide as we peered intently through our binoculars. 

“There was a visible difference between how Mitchell Starc got the ball to reverse in the first Test in Durban and the final Test in Johannesburg. We now know that there was an obvious reason for that.” 

Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc. Credits: Twitter

Faf Du Plessis does not expressly accuse Starc of anything wrong, but he does point to both his and South Africa’s previous instances of ball-tampering, notably when he used a mint to shine the ball to make it swing in late 2016 in Australia. 

“I’m not mentioning this from atop a high horse,” he added. 

“In the past, we have also been found guilty of employing unorthodox methods to get the ball to reverse swing. 

“In our team, we just thought, ‘Nah! Ball tampering and reverse swing have always been there.’ In fact, it was probably more prevalent when camera technology wasn’t as good as it is today.” 

I Don’t Think Steve Smith Did Much Wrong: Faf du Plessis

Faf Du Plessis went on to say that he does not believe Steve Smith, who was suspended for a year, “did much wrong,” and that he has “tremendous sympathy” for Cameron Bancroft. 

However, du Plessis made no mention of David Warner, who was suspended for a year and is still forbidden from any leadership position in the Australian cricket team. 

Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith
Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith (PC-Twitter)

“Personally, I don’t think Steve Smith did much wrong,” he wrote. 

“It’s no secret that all cricket teams want the ball to reverse. Not everyone knows how to accomplish this, especially not inexperienced players. But everyone knows it’s wrong to change the condition of the ball. We, too, have pushed those boundaries. 

“Steve Smith and I have never been friends but we always played a hard game against each other, and Steve had been willing to defend me publicly in 2016 when ‘Mintgate’ broke. 

“I texted him that evening [in Cape Town]: ‘Message of support. Gone through this myself. It is a terrible experience when they attack your character. Hang in there. It will blow over.’ 

“He responded, ‘Thanks mate!’ To which I replied, ‘There will be a s***storm for a while. But stay strong.’ 

“I have tremendous sympathy for what he [Bancroft] went through. This is what happens in a team when the culture of belonging is restricted to performance and when players are made to believe that they need to prove themselves at any cost before they feel accepted.” 

There Was No Damage On The Ball Seen By Umpires: Faf du Plessis

Last year, Australia’s current bowling attack was obliged to release a joint statement after Bancroft appeared to imply that Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon were all aware of ball-tampering practises. 

“We did not know a foreign substance was taken onto the field to alter the condition of the ball until we saw the images on the big screen at Newlands,” the four bowlers said in a joint statement last year. 

Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis, Tim Paine (PC-Twitter)

“And to those who, despite the absence of evidence, insist that ‘we must have known’ about the use of a foreign substance simply because we are bowlers, we say this:

The umpires during that Test match, Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, both very respected and experienced umpires, inspected the ball after the images surfaced on the TV coverage and did not change it because there was no sign of damage. 

“None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened. 

“We’ve all learned valuable lessons and we’d like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue. 

“We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on.” 

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