The Australian media have enjoyed a love affair with the South African captain Faf du Plessis ever since the skipper was spotted with a mint in his mouth during the second Test at Hobart.
“Lollygate” or “Mintgate” depending on which tabloid you picked up with your coffee in the morning took on a life on its own, especially after the situation was escalated through the Proteas’ own show of solidarity at the MCG.
The incident at the Adelaide airport with Proteas security personnel Zunaid Wadee and a Channel 9 reporter raised Du Plessis’s celebrity status to unprecedented levels with even US socialite Paris Hilton, who is in the country on her Gold Rush tour, pushed back in the queue.
So, after already expressing their views on Tuesday when Du Plessis was “only” handed a 100% match fine and docked three demerit points after being found guilty of ball tampering and not actually banned for today’s Test, the knives were sharpened again on Wednesday when the Proteas skipper spoke out for the first time since Hobart.
Leading the charge was former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who told news.com.au, that “I’ve been a little bit disappointed with the way they’ve acted, to tell you the truth,” Ponting said.
“As has been shown, he’s been proven guilty. They’ve made out that it was all a storm in a teacup when he’s actually broken an ICC (rule).
“He’s got a 100 per cent match fee (fine) - he was probably lucky not to get a game (suspension). It’s not the first time he’s done it, either. But the game goes on.”
Meanwhile, Peter FitzSimons, who is a columnist for the respected broadsheet the Sydney Morning Herald, was particularly critical of the ICC’s censure handed out to Du Plessis.