Faf du Plessis said his intentions were harmless © Getty Images (File Photo)
Mar 4, 2014
The evenly contested three-match Test series between South Africa and Australia met a flash point on Day Three of the final Test when Faf du Plessis picked up the ball from the pitch in the 34th over of the South African innings. He harmlessly tossed it back to the bowler, but the Aussies didn’t take it too well.
Du Plessis was suddenly surrounded by the Australian fielders, as David Warner explained him ‘it wasn’t his turn to field yet’, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They are pretty aggressive about that ball,” du Plessis later said.
“I thought I was just being a nice guy picking the ball up, saving their legs in the field.
“But they run like a pack of dogs around you when you get close to that ball.
“Whatever, that is probably the way they play their cricket. I always pick the ball up, it means nothing”, he added.
Mitchell Johnson took a contrasting viewpoint. “We could have appealed for it, I guess,” Johnson said.
“I was actually going to let the ball hit me but he didn’t throw it straight.
“I think we’ve always been like that, Hadds (Brad Haddin) has been a big believer in wanting to be the one to pick the ball up, or a fielder around there.
“That’s our job. We’re out there to field.”
The umpires had a quick word with du Plessis after the incident. “I don’t know exactly what the ruling is but I think he just said that because they are so upset about picking it up (don’t do it),” the right-hander said of the conversation with the umpires.
“I see the ball as being dead when it stops.”
“I won’t do it again,” du Plessis said when one journalist raised Hilditch’s dismissal.
There have been only seven batsmen dismissed ‘handled the ball’ in Test cricket.