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Over the wicket: Is Du Plessis and Kohli’s sugar act justified?

Feigning ignorance about difference between ball shinning and tampering is a shame

  • India’s Virat KohliImage Credit: AP
  • Faf du Plessis.Image Credit: AFP
Gulf News

South Africa’s stand-in captain Faf du Plessis claimed not guilty of ball-tampering last week. Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli laughed off any such allegations against him.

With due respect to both the cricketers, are we supposed to believe that what was seen on television was not a deliberate attempt to tamper the ball?

Both players were seen putting their fingers into their mouth that had mint sweets and applying the saliva on to the ball.

After the act, Du Plessis remarked that ninety per cent of the time cricketers have a sugary saliva because of the carbonated drinks or sucking on jellies, and that he wasn’t sure whether sugary saliva when applied on the ball would make any difference. He also commented that cricketers were not scientists to know that sugary saliva can alter the conditions of the ball.

Kohli and Du Plessis want people to believe they did nothing wrong.

Volumes have been written on the different ways of ball-tampering, and one of them is about how sweetened saliva, when applied to the smooth side of the ball results in more pressure between the smooth and tough sides leading to severe swinging of the ball.

To believe that they haven’t read or heard about it is impossible. Even if one assumes this study is wrong, the Laws of Cricket permits a player to shine the ball only as long as no artificial substance is used.

It is cricketers who have pushed this law to gain advantage, like former England skipper Mike Atherton who carried dirt in his pocket and applied it on the ball.

Also, we are supposed to believe that Du Plessis, who once in Dubai scuffed the ball against his zip pocket on the lower portion of his trouser against Pakistan, had no intention to gain any advantage when applying his saliva on the ball? Are they feigning ignorance about the difference between ball shinning and tampering?

Years ago, South African off spinner Pat Symcox was pulled up for rubbing the ball under his armpit. The Laws of Cricket cannot specify where all can a ball be rubbed and what all can be used on it and that is why it is permitted to shine the ball only on the trouser.

Cricketers who attempt manipulations on the ball may well ask themselves before feigning innocence whether players are allowed to modify the ball in any other sport. Does every application on a ball need be referred to a scientist for it’s clearance? Laws of cricket were written with the assumption that gentlemen play the game in its true spirit.

Let’s hope cricketers do not push the envelope to such an extent that their saliva gets tested and pockets searched before entering the field.