The third Test match between South Africa cricket team and New Zealand cricket team in Hamilton, which the hosts have to win to tie the series 1-1, has seen some good cricket, despite losing out an entire day’s play on Day 1. On Monday, Kane Williamson posted his 17th test century and Jeet Raval his highest Test score. (Scorecard)
But a day of milestones, and some good, hard cricket action, was marred by a controversy over South Africa’s treatment of the ball.
Controversy came midway through the day at Seddon Park , soon after the ball had begun to reverse swing, when Australian umpires Rod Tucker and Bruce Oxenford ordered the ball to be changed, apparently because of their concern the fielding side had deliberately affected its condition.
The South Africans appeared to intentionally throw it to the keeper on the bounce -- usually on the pitch -- with a side-arm action ostensibly aiming to always land it on the same side. Causing one side to become scuffed aids the pursuit of reverse swing.
After examining the ball, Tucker and Oxenford called for a replacement. A long conversation followed between the umpires and Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, who appeared to argue that the ball should not be changed, presumably because its deterioration was natural, and thus a fair advantage to the bowling team.
South Africa then seemed resentful of the forced change. Du Plessis approached the umpires twice to suggest the replacement ball had gone out of shape and swing bowler Vernon Philander, most affected by the ball change, resorted to rolling the ball back from the outfield in an act of protest.
No charges had been laid by the end of play and it is not uncommon for bowling sides to use methods similar to those used by South Africa Monday to advance the ball’s deterioration and to aid reverse swing.
But the incident was the second controversy involving South Africa and the ball this southern season. Last November, Faf du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering during a test against Australia in Hobart, after being caught on camera applying saliva to the ball with a mint in his mouth. He was fined his full match fee and given three demerit points.
As far as the Test is concerned, New Zealand scored 321/4 at stumps, taking a seven run lead in their first innings, with Williamson (148) -- who equalled Martin Crowe’s record of 17 Test centuries for the Black Caps -- and Mitchell Santner (13) at the crease.