Is Faf du Plessis a cheat? Or is the boiled sweet a smokescreen to try and take the heat off the Australian batsman.
Does sucking a boiled sweet and the saliva it generates really help obtain a shine on a cricket ball? There is no absolute proof. However there are some players who believe that certain sweets do generate more saliva and they are convinced that it does help.
What has made what would a appear to be a really minor issue suddenly a huge one is because it was ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson who laid the charges of ball tampering. Richardson is a former South African cricketer. Now the Chief Executive of SA Cricket has claimed that during his playing career Richardson was involved in ball-tampering.
To add fuel to the fire that this is being blown out of all proportion Steve Smith the Australian Captain has been quoted in the Australian newspaper as saying “We along with every other team around the world shine the ball the same way.” The Australians have been accused of sucking mints in order to help them gain a better shine on the ball. Then yesterday there was a picture of Indian player Virat Kohl using a mint to do the same.
So has Richardson really opened a can of worms?
There is no doubt that one of the issues facing cricket is that, in the main, the bat has become far too dominant over the ball, with the changes in bat technology and the wickets being prepared.
Modern day bowlers are frequently told how to hold the ball, and then run in as fast as they can and hit the seam. Many have no idea what the ball is going to do when it leaves their hand. Gone are the days of the swing bowler who could swing a ball both ways at will. So again the skill level comes into question at a time when bowlers need more skill and intellect to get a batsman out.
So is it therefore any wonder, rightly or wrongly that they are looking for any advantage they can get?
Where will this end? One would think that the ICC are going to start fining or suspending players for such acts then it will not be long before they ban players from eating any sweets in the field, or even chewing gum.
Will it stop there? Next will be sunscreen or even any ointment used to loosen a players stiff muscles. There have been many a player caught up with various ointments over the years, John Lever of England in New Zealand is one that springs to mind. Another player found fly repellent mixed with sweat, worked wonders on the ball.
Is this however a big issue? Surely picking the seam and making that sit up is far more a case of ball tampering than trying to get a shine on one side of it. Similarly the old bottle top in the pocket to rough up one side of the ball, or deliberately studding the ball on one side to try and scuff one side so that the ball swings more, is more a case of ball tampering.
One wonders where this will end and Richardson may well wish he had never stuck his head over the parapet as ultimately he is going to be the one who will have bring in and enforce any new rules.