Cape Town - Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has hit out at the Proteas and feels skipper Faf du Plessis is lucky not to have received a match ban for ball tampering.
Du Plessis was fined 100% of his match fee on Tuesday after being caught on camera sucking a mint and rubbing saliva onto the ball during last week's second Test against Australia in Hobart.
“I’ve been a little bit disappointed with the way they’ve acted, to tell you the truth,” Ponting was quoted as saying by the news.com.au website.
“As has been shown, he’s been proven guilty. They’ve made out that it was all a storm in a tea cup when he’s actually broken an ICC (rule).
“He’s got a 100 percent match fee (fine) - he was probably lucky not to get a game (suspension). It’s not the first time he’s done it, either. But the game goes on.”
Du Plessis though insisted he didn't think he was in the wrong.
"I still completely disagree with that (decision)," AFP quoted Du Plessis as telling reporters in Adelaide.
"I feel like I've done nothing wrong... it's not like I was trying to cheat or anything.
"For me (ball-tampering) is picking the ball, scratching the ball. Shining the ball, I think all cricketers would say, is not in the same place."
Du Plessis argued the science was unclear about the effects of rubbing sweetened saliva on a ball, and said it was impossible to police such a rule given the drinks, sweets and chewing gum players use on-field.
"I just think it's opened up a can of worms with what's going to happen now going forward with the game," Du Plessis said.
"Something like this needed to happen to create a bit more awareness around it."
He added: "Obviously the ICC has taken a stance against me, to use me as a scapegoat now. But all I can ask for is that everyone gets treated the same."
It is the second time Du Plessis has been fined for ball-tampering, after he was docked 50 percent of his match fee in 2013 for scuffing the ball on the zip of his trousers in the second Test against Pakistan.
Australian captain Steve Smith also voiced his support for his opposite number, saying: "I think every team around the world shines the cricket ball.
"I've seen Faf's comments and look, from my point of view, and I make it very clear, that we haven't come out and said anything about Faf or about how he was shining the ball or anything like that," Smith said.
"We, along with every other team around the world, shine the ball the same way."