AB de Villiers says the response to the ball tampering incident involving Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith was blown out proportion.
It was an intense Test series. The attention on cricket was shifted to the controversy on and off the field. It started with David Warner’s tunnel altercation with Quinton de Kock and ended with a ball-tampering scandal that rocked the cricket world.
De Villiers has yet to comment on the incident but in an interview with The Guardian, the 34-year-old revealed what he felt towards the three players involved.
‘It was blown up massively,’ said De Villiers. ‘Yes, it is a serious matter but it was taken to a level where it really hurt them individually and I felt sorry for them. Especially Smith, who stood up thinking he was doing the right thing by his players. The way he was punished was harsh.
‘Wrong is wrong. Guys try to find a way to get the ball to reverse but you have to stay in the laws. Sandpaper? Sheesh, I don’t know. I have it in my bag but that’s for cleaning my bat.’
Despite all the drama, De Villiers was ecstatic to be a part of a Proteas side whose 3-1 series made them the first to beat Australia in South Africa post-isolation and the first since 1970.
‘It was rough,’ De Villiers said ‘But it was the best series I have been a part of. There were scandals that weren’t called for but cricket-wise, the way we dominated was, well, I haven’t been part of a team that has done that to them.’