South Africa skipper, Faf du Plessis, on Sunday, called for the governing body of the game to impose harsher penalties to those who are found guilty of ball-tampering.
When it comes to altering the ball’s conditions through unfair means, Faf du Plessis is not a stranger.
He had been caught in the scandal twice in the last five years. In 2013, on the third day of the second Test against Pakistan, he was seen scuffing one side of the ball while making use of the zip of his trousers.
It was spotted by the on-field umpires, who awarded Pakistan five penalty runs and changed the ball. Later, du Plessis was fined half his match fee for the Test.
In 2016, he once again hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. During the Hobart Test against Australia, television footage caught him applying saliva onto the ball that had residue of mint on it. The on-field umpires had not charged him, but following the release of the footage, he was found guilty and fined 100% of his match fee.
And before he along with his side left for Sri Lanka, Faf was asked whether the ICC should change the regulations around the issue.
The question was prompted by the recent scandal in which Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal got charged after being found guilty of ball-tampering against the Windies in the second Test.
“They have to. It’s happening too often. They definitely need to do that as quickly as possible,” he said. “I know they met a while ago, but it doesn’t look like anything has changed. It’s still the same rules and stuff, so they need to change that. The penalties need to be harsher for ball tampering,” du Plessis said.
The ICC, meanwhile, had already made it clear that it is set to approve stricter penalties for the offence. Under the revised rules, ball tampering will get upgraded from a Level 2 offence to Level 3. As a result, the players will not get a ban of four Tests, or eight ODIs.
Du Plessis further shifted his focus towards the upcoming series. He said his side is expecting a tough series against the Islanders.
“I am expecting tough conditions,” he said. “I think Sri Lanka will look at it on paper and think we’ve got a better side on paper. And I think they will try and make it as dry as possible and spin as much as possible.”
It will be South Africa’s first series in the sub-continent since they suffered the 3-0 loss against India in 2015. The defeat was their first away series loss in nine years. It had also seen them concede the number one Test ranking.
Du Plessis is now hopeful his side will do better this time around after learning the lessons from the India drubbing.
“It will be a nice opportunity to test ourselves in tough conditions. There were a lot of lessons learnt by us [in India]. You have to go through something like that to pick your game apart, start from scratch and look at how you get better,” he said.
South Africa, however, will have to do well without its best batsman of their successful summer, AB de Villiers. The batting legend recently retired from the game.
Du Plessis, however, sees it as an opportunity for any younger player to step up.
“AB has only played the last one or two series for this Test team, so he has actually not been playing for a while,” du Plessis said. “It will be a nice opportunity for Temba [Bavuma] or somebody else to put his peg in the ground and make the position his own again.”