Du Plessis: I am a morally good person, no cheat
Johannesburg: Shaken at being called a cheat after the recent the ball-tampering controversy, South African batsman Faf du Plessis said the furore affected him so much that he is now scared to even look at the ball!
Du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee after being reported for ball-tampering in the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai. He was criticised heavily with some critics saying that he had been let off with a rather light punishment.
The South African, opening up for the first time on the controversy, said he has been left rattled by the uproar. "I pride myself on being a morally good person, and that's why this past week has been so difficult, as people have been quick to label me a cheat. That's not the kind of person I am and it's not the kind of person I want to be associated with," Du Plessis wrote in his column on 'supersport.com'.
"Now, when someone throws me the ball, I'm afraid to even look at it, and rather just catch it and get rid of it!" he said.
Recalling the incident, du Plessis said he was merely trying to shine the ball but admitted that it was a borderline case and the third umpire was justified in calling for an inspection.
"There are ways of 'working' the ball as much as possible within the rules, such as bouncing the ball on the wicket, trying to bowl cross-seam, and basically trying to scuff the ball as much as possible, naturally, so that it's easier for the bowlers to grip," he explained.
"So, I was trying to keep the ball as dry as possible. As the footage showed, I was on the rough side of the ball, and I'll be the first to admit that I was working it far too close to my zip. That's obviously what the third umpire saw on TV," e recollected.
Du Plessis, however, said the on-field umpires did not find anything wrong with the ball when they had a look at it which, according to him, was the reason for the relatively light punishment handed out to him.
"...when the onfield umpires inspected the ball, there wasn't a scratch mark or anything untoward on the ball. In fact, it was in excellent shape and wasn't reverse-swinging at all.
"Basically, the condition of the ball hadn't been changed, and that's why I think my penalty was not as harsh as the sentences given out for other similar incidents," he said.
Du Plessis said although the incident has affected him badly, it has also helped him learn an important lesson. "The lesson for me is that when you are in a grey area, to always make sure you are morally on the right side of things, so there's absolutely no confusion or misunderstanding.
"This hasn't been an enjoyable week and it's affected me a lot, as it's not a nice thing to go through," he said. The batsman regretted that the controversy overshadowed his team's triumph in the match.
"My biggest regret is that this whole ball-tampering saga overshadowed what was an awesome Test victory for us," he said.