DUBAI: South Africa were docked five penalty runs for ball-tampering on the third day of the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai on Friday.
Television replays showed South African fielder Faf du Plessis rubbing the ball on his trousers which had a zip on them, in an apparent attempt to tamper with the ball.
Umpires Rod Tucker of Australia and England's Ian Gould called South African captain Graeme Smith, changed the ball and added five runs to Pakistan's score.
Pakistan were struggling at 62 for three with Dale Steyn about to start the 31st over when the umpires took notice of the ball and took the decision.
Under International Cricket Council (ICC) rule 42.1 on tampering, if an umpire spots a change in the condition of the ball but doesn't know who is the culprit, he will issue a first and final warning to the captain and the ball will be changed.
In case the ball is tampered with again, the bowling team will face a five-run penalty and umpires will not only change the ball again but the captain will be held responsible and reported.
But in this case the umpires saw Du Plessis rubbing the ball in an apparent move to tamper with the ball and they called Smith and docked five penalty runs.
An ICC spokesman confirmed the incident.
“As per 42.1 of the ICC playing conditions, the umpires replaced the ball and fined South Africa five penalty runs for ball tampering,” said an ICC spokesman.
“We don't cheat,” says AB de Villiers
Reacting on the incident, AB de Villiers said the Proteas were not cheats.
“Honestly, we're not the team that scratches the ball,” he insisted. “We don't cheat, it's as simple as that. I know Faffy very well, he's the last man to try anything like that.”
De Villiers said du Plessis, South Africa's captain in Twenty20s, was responsible for looking after the condition of the ball and keeping the shine on. “It's not an easy job, I thought he did it very well,” de Villiers said.
The South African wicket keeper batsman said he had no idea how the umpires discovered the ball's condition had changed. “There was no talk about it, no warnings and nothing, it was just out of nowhere,” he said.
Pakistan was at the receiving end during the Oval test in 2006, the last and only time a team was penalised five runs for ball tampering in a test match.
Then Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq reacted strongly and decided not to continue the test in protest. Australia umpire Darrell Hair reacted by awarding the game to England – the only forfeit in the history of test cricket.
This month, the ICC amended its laws regarding the condition of balls, saying “if a player responsible can be identified” the ball will be changed, a five-run penalty will be awarded, and the player responsible will be reported.
It's expected the umpires will lay a charge against du Plessis to match referee David Boon, and a hearing held late Friday.
Du Plessis faces a range of penalties; a 50 to 100 per cent fine of his match fees, a suspension from one test and two one-day internationals or two Twenty20s, whichever is played first.