JOHANNESBURG – Faf du Plessis has welcomed an International Cricket Council review into player behaviour in the wake of a few shocking acts of ill-discipline that have blighted the international game in recent weeks.
Speaking ahead of the fourth Test between South Africa and Australia – a series that has seen players called into the match referee’s room at the end of each match – the Proteas captain said it was about time the ruling body woke up.
“I think it’s overdue,” said Du Plessis.
The series between Australia and South Africa, which concludes at the Wanderers this week, has seen plenty of acrimony between the two sets of players.
It started with David Warner and Quinton de Kock’s stairwell incident in Durban, through to the send-offs directed at various batsmen and culminating in the ball-tampering affair at Newlands which saw Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft all banned for between nine and 12 months.
On Thursday, Darren Lehmann resigned as the Australian team’s coach as well in the wake of the scandal.
Referring to the “Mintgate” affair in Australia two years ago – when he was docked 100% of his match fine and handed three demerit points after being caught applying sticky saliva to the ball during the second Test – Du Plessis said the lack of clarity regarding the ICC’s disciplinary measures meant the players were constantly in the dark.
“As players, we don’t know what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Once you have those grey areas, a lot of things happen that shouldn’t maybe happen. The good that can come from something like this is that you become a lot clearer, and players have a lot better understanding,” said Du Plessis.
The ICC said in a statement on Thursday that their review would be wide-ranging.
“There has been significant debate over the last few weeks around behaviour of players and the leniency or otherwise in some cases of the associated punishments,” said ICC chief executive David Richardson. “The match officials work within the framework of the current ICC Code of Conduct and sanctions are applied according to that.
“To go outside of this current framework would be to disregard the rules. This is an opportune moment, therefore, to shape what the game looks like in the 21st century and take a much broader look at the issues currently facing the sport, and consider how we define what a spirit or respect code looks like today.”
Besides this series, there was a shocking incident in a T20 International between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, where players engaged in shoving match and a dressing room was badly damaged at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo two weeks ago.
“We want this review to be collaborative and have a long-term positive impact on the game and we will bring together a cultural cross section of players who played in a manner that epitomised fair play as well as the ICC Cricket Committee, the MCC, match officials and, of course, current players,” Richardson added.
Du Plessis and the Proteas team have demanded more consistency in the application of the ICC’s Code of Conduct and will certainly be putting that across again, should the ICC call on them.
“I’ve been talking about it for quite a while… all I’ve asked for is consistency. I do believe before this series that there were a lot of questions from us as a team and me as a captain, that the conversations and communication with us, you don’t feel that same communication happens with certain players and certain teams around the world.
“And I’ve stressed that to a match referee and an umpire that all I want is that both teams get treated in the same way.”
The severe punishments handed out by Cricket Australia to three players involved in the tampering affair – which Du Plessis described as “harsh” – have shone the spotlight on the ICC’s sanctions.
The governing body had only banned Smith for one Test for the scandal that unfolded at Newlands, while Bancroft lost 75% of his match fee and was docked three demerit points.
“Cricket Australia have shown (they are talking it more seriously than the ICC), their penalties are a lot harsher. That’s probably why the ICC wants to relook it,” said Du Plessis.