It’s only a game

By March 30, 2018Australian Politics, Society

Francois ‘Faf’ du Plessis, the current South African cricket team captain, is a fine right-handed batsman whose test batting average is just over 42, an average which would get him into any team on the planet. He is also a part time leg spinner, but despite having bowled some 13 overs in tests, has not taken any wickets1. He also seems to be a fine captain of his team who despite only making his test debut in late 2012, was named T20 captain only three months later, and took over the test captaincy in December 2016.

Despite his denials, du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering in a Test match at the Oval against Pakistan, in October, 2013. He was caught on video rubbing the ball against the metal of a zipper on his trousers2. This sort of thing is designed to alter the condition of the ball by roughing up one side of the ball to make it reverse swing (away from the rough side of the ball) after leaving the bowler’s hand. His punishment was to be fined 50% of his match fee2.

In late 2016, du Plessis was caught on video rubbing the ball with a mint, and putting saliva on the ball while he had a mint in his mouth2,3. This sort of thing is also designed to alter the condition of the ball by making it sticky so that it is more inclined to pick up dirt and therefore make the ball rougher on one side, again to make it reverse swing. Despite pleading otherwise, he was found guilty and fined 100% of his match fee2,3.

Cameron Bancroft was caught on video using a piece of sandpaper to rough up one side of the ball, and Australian captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner were apparently part of the plan. Smith and Warner have been stripped of their positions and sent home and will also face a 12 month ban from Cricket Australia. Bancroft will face a nine-month ban. Given the punishment meted out to previous transgressors (such as du Plessis), this is vastly out of proportion, as the Australian Cricketers’ Association have pointed out4. Indeed, the International Cricket Council had already banned Smith for one Test match and fined him 100% of his match fee.

Part of the problem with this fiasco was that it came at a time when the government needed some sort of distraction from its own fiascos. The Prime Minister idiotically weighed into the debate, stating that it was a “shocking disappointment”, a “terrible disgrace” and a “shocking affront to Australia” and insisted that Cricket Australia act “decisively and emphatically”. He should have acted with more sense and not have pressured Cricket Australia to act. In addition, calling this a disgrace is an acute lack of perspective from a government which has kept men, women and children locked up for years on Manus Island and in Nauru, a government who has just withdrawn income support from 7000 asylum seekers in Australia6, a government which has just supported a request for a 0% minimum wage increase.

To cap this all off, du Plessis has now said that he suspects the Australian team had used similar methods earlier in the series. This is a little rich coming from a doubly convicted ball tamperer.





  • Arthur Baker says:

    A letter published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald complains about the “full-blown attack” upon, and “public humiliation” of, the Cape Town three. Here’s its full text:

    “The full-blown attack upon, and public humiliation of Bancroft, Smith and David Warner disgusts me. They broke the rules of the game they play (a game for god’s sake), were caught, and had a penalty imposed by the governing body of the sport which should have been the end of the matter. But not in modern-day Australia! The moral police and the cultural warriors insisted on more! They had to be SEEN to be punished! Hence the outrage, the public attacks, and eventually the public humiliation. I hope they are now happy. What a sad little country we have become!
    Michael Chapman, East Albury”

    What the hell does Michael Chapman expect, when the “Leadership Team” of this country insists that refugees, many of whom are children, who broke no laws of any country nor the rules of any game, be SEEN (his emphasis) to be punished and publicly humiliated and demonised, for FIVE YEARS (my emphasis) in some miserable mid-Pacific gulag until they lose their minds, and in some cases their lives.

    He’s at least right that Australia has become a sad little country, but that didn’t come about because three boofheads applied sandpaper to a cricket ball in Cape Town. That horse had bolted way back in 2001 with the implementation of the Pacific so-called “Solution”.

    As for Turnbull’s embarrassing swipe at cricketers for their behaviour, he might like to take a look at his own workplace, in which he and others every day engage in the kind of sledging which would lead to dismissal in most modern Australian workplaces.

  • Jim says:

    I agree that the reaction to the ball tampering is way out of proportion to the “crime”. As noted by admin this has been going on for many years at all levels of the game. You get the impression that if war broke out the news would be on page 3 after the cricket “scandal”.

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