Cricket is indeed a funny old game. Its history is rich and to many around the world, it is more than just a game. Especially in South Asia, 'cricket fever’ is rampant. The enthusiasm for the sport can be gauged from hero-worship, and the elevation to the status of national icons its players enjoy. But, it’s not just the players which make cricket what it is, unfortunately, it’s also the officials. Time and again, they entertain fans with their own displays of brilliance. The recent Faf du Plessis ball-tampering controversy during the Pakistan-South Africa test series is a good example.

The cricket ball has to be one of the most infuriating objects in the entire world. It has a shiny side and a dark side, much like the game itself. Its behavior can rapidly change along with its condition. With such room for innovation at their disposal, frustrated players sometimes take drastic measures hoping for more swing, or less bounce. Scratching with fingernails, excessive use of towelling under the guise of cleaning, rolling the ball on the ground with spiked shoes – are some of the methods used for ball-tampering. Boom Boom Shahid Afridi’s subtlety in biting the ball, perhaps mistaking it for an apple, easily takes the cake. However, what’s more comedic is the manner in which such cases have been dealt with by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

When the conduct of a South Asian player is in question, officials are quick to jump to conclusions and refuse to give any benefit of the doubt. Contrary to that, if it’s someone from South Africa, Australia or England, the ICC acts with confounding generosity. While South Asian cricketers are easily found guilty and strictly penalized, others tend to get away with barely a slap on the wrist. Faf du Plessis can be easily spotted in the footage to be using the zipper near his trouser pocket for ball-tampering. Where a similar offence would amount to a fine as well as a one-match or two-match suspension as in the case of Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendular etc, Mr Plessis was just fined 50% of his match free as the match referee David Boon was convinced that the act "was not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball." So, it can be appropriately described as a case of ‘brief and innocent’ ball-tampering. Mr Plessis has joined the ranks of Mark Waugh, Shane Warne, Stuart Broad, Mike Atherton, Lance Klusener and several other Non-South Asian players, all who have benefitted from ICC’s double standards.

The biased and inconsistent policy adopted by the ICC must be reviewed and changed. There is only so many times they can be caught behind the stumps and carry on as if nothing happened.