SPORT

South Africa Should Cop It Sweet Over Cricket Lolly Scandal

The ICC is investigating whether the ball was in mint condition.

19/11/2016 11:43 AM AEDT | Updated 19/11/2016 12:40 PM AEDT
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David Gray / Reuters
Faf asks the ump if he happens to have a spare life saver in his pocket.

Grown men arguing with other grown men over lollies and spit. Yeah, this is what big time sport is all about. Not.

Except that suddenly it is. The Test series between South Africa and Australia has descended into the sort of comedic farce which makes the (alleged) humour of Adam Sandler seem sophisticated. It's all about lollies, or to be precise, a single mint lolly.

Said sweet was in the mouth of South African captain Faf du Plessis during the Hobart massacre -- sorry, Test -- when he imparted spit upon the ball, as fielders do, to help shine one side of it, thereby making it more likely to swing.

Deliberately using a lolly to add a bit of spice to saliva has been done before, when England won The Ashes for the first time in 16 years in 2005. But it's naughty. Law 42.3 of the MCC Cricket Laws states that a fielder may polish a ball, "provided that no artificial substance is used".

So here's where we're at. While no Australian has registered a formal complaint, cricket's ruling body, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has stepped in to investigate.

A couple of things have happened since that was announced. Late Friday, senior South African batsman Hashim Amla stepped up and gave this defiant press conference.

And then half of South Africa took to Twitter, led by champion bowler Dale Steyn, who played part of the first match of this massacre -- sorry, series -- then spent yesterday taunting the Aussies over "mintgate", as it's being termed

Then came Rabada

Now the silly thing about Rabada and Steyne's tweets is that no Aussie player or fan is seeking excuses. There is not a single Australian player or fan who would not concede that our national team has been outplayed by South Africa in this appallingly one sided massacre -- sorry, early summer of cricket.

Repeat, nobody here is whingeing. The Australian cricket team is NOT accusing South Africa of alleged ball tampering. But the ICC Is, and du Plessis may face a one match ban if found guilty.

Amla is an eloquent sort of fellow who said lots of admirable things, as he usually does, at Friday's press conference.

"I take no gratification from the difficulties of others," he responded when asked if he was enjoying seeing Australia struggle so badly.

"We hope to keep enjoying each other's company and keep supporting each other," he said of his goals for the rest of his summer, implying that team spirit is more important than winning.

These were lovely thoughts. But Amla was defiant on the matter of why the press conference was called.

"We stand together in solidarity with our captain who has done absolutely nothing wrong. If there was any doubt whatsoever, we wouldn't be here as a team today. This is a joke. There was no malicious intent whatsoever."

Well there is doubt, which is why the ICC is investigating. It, and it alone, will decide whether the intent was malicious or not.

Meanwhile, everybody might stop accusing Australia of whingeing, which we're not. We're far too desperately busy trying to find someone, anyone, who can compete with the South Africans in the third Test in Adelaide starting this Thursday

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