Third Test: South Africa’s Faf du Plessis protests innocence over ‘Mintgate’, and Australia’s Steven Smith agrees

South Africa's cricket captain Faf du Plessis speaks a press conference ahead of the third Test match against Australia in Adelaide on November 23, 2016. Peter Parks / AFP
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Ahead of the third and final Test, scheduled to get under way in Adelaide on Thursday, Australia captain Steve Smith threw his weight behind Faf du Plessis over the “Mintgate” controversy.

Smith has conceded his team shine the ball “the same way” as did his South Africa counterpart Du Plessis, who was found guilty of ball-tampering.

Du Plessis, 32, was sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday after an incident in his side’s win over Australia in the second Test at Hobart last week, where television footage appeared to show him “applying saliva and residue from a mint or sweet, an artificial substance, to the ball in an attempt to change its condition”.

But Smith, quoted on Cricket Australia’s website, said yesterday: “Every team around the world shines the cricket ball.”

• Faf du Plessis found guilty of ball-tampering but cleared to play in Adelaide cricket Test

Both captains also pointed out the allegation did not come from the Australia team.

Du Plessis escaped a ban, instead receiving a fine for 100 per cent of his match fee. However, he said he was irked by the ICC’s decision, which was delivered by match referee Andy Pycroft.

“I still completely disagree with that,” he said yesterday. “I feel like I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not like I was trying to cheat or anything.

“The Aussies won’t talk about it at all because they know it’s part of their team as well.

“[The controversy] has not been driven by the [Australia] cricketers at all. There’s been no comment whatsoever from them. In fact, it’s all been positive comments. I even read a comment from [Australia coach] Darren Lehmann supporting me, which was really good to see.”

Smith, too, backed up Du Plessis’s stance. “I have seen Faf’s comments in his press conference. And I make it very clear that we haven’t come out and said anything about Faf or about how he was shining the ball or anything like that,” he said.

“We along with every other team around the world shine the ball the same way.”

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Du Plessis called for the sport’s lawmakers to clarify a problematic “grey area” or face dealing with a “can of worms” in the future. He said for him ball-tampering “is picking the ball, scratching the ball”. Shining the ball, he added: “I think all cricketers would say, is not in the same place.

“I think it’s such a grey area in the laws of cricket and I think it’s something now will be looked at. I think it’s opened up a can of worms going forward.

“The term ‘cheat’ has been thrown around and that’s something I don’t take a liking to.

“I felt I’ve done nothing wrong. I was shining the cricket ball. I’ve done it my whole career.”

Cricket South Africa has stood by its captain, who is deputising for the injured AB de Villiers, and will await the written findings of Pycroft before deciding whether to appeal the verdict.


• First Test South Africa won by 177 runs in Perth

• Second Test South Africa won by an innings and 80 runs in Hobart

Third Test Thursday to Monday in Adelaide

* Press Association

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