Faf du Plessis. Picture: EPA/DAVE HUNT
Faf du Plessis. Picture: EPA/DAVE HUNT

Faf du Plessis knows just how Steve Smith feels. Except that he doesn’t.

"It’s difficult for me to give an answer which I think is right‚" Du Plessis said.

"It’s so difficult to say which is right and which is wrong.

"Obviously he is trying to take responsibility‚ so there is right in that. There is also right in holding other people responsible for their own actions.

"I can understand it’s a really tough time for him to be in now. The situation I was in was really difficult for me because people were attacking me‚ my personality and my character‚ and I felt it was wrong‚ it wasn’t fair.

"I don’t know how he feels but I imagine it is a really tough time."

When Du Plessis was done for ball-tampering in Australia in November 2016‚ he felt like his world was ending.

Smith‚ who admitted to being party to the same offence during the third Test at Newlands on Saturday‚ no doubt feels that way now.

But Du Plessis’s offence never caught the attention of Jacob Zuma‚ SA’s president at the time.

The trouble Smith is in increased exponentially on Sunday‚ when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in‚ telling the Melbourne Age: "It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating."

The story burst its banks further on Sunday when a reporter in the Newlands pressbox was commissioned to write the front page lead in Monday’s edition of the Indian Express.

The Rajasthan Royals are set to pay Smith more than R8m to play for and captain them in this year’s Indian Premier League.

Whether that will happen is to be decided by the Board of Control for Cricket India‚ but the franchise has already made plain its "zero tolerance policy" for bringing cricket into disrepute.

Whichever way you look at it‚ right now it’s no fun being Steven Peter Devereux Smith.

"When I was in Australia it felt like the same intensity‚" Du Plessis said when he was asked to compare the two sagas.

"I was being followed everywhere I went. The media looked the same as it does now.

"But there are probably bigger organisations and people that want to get involved.

"I think it’s unfair for me to comment on what they think.

"My situation‚ I feel‚ was a little bit different than this."

Du Plessis maintains he was merely using saliva to shine the ball during the second test in Hobart‚ where television cameras spotted a mint in his mouth.

Using saliva is allowed‚ but the mint that was melting into that saliva meant a foreign substance was being applied to the ball, which is not allowed.

Even so‚ Du Plessis insisted Smith’s crime‚ which was to be involved in a plan for Cameron Bancroft to scuff up the ball using sticking tape loaded with sand from the pitch‚ was worse.

"Ball-shining versus ball-tampering are two different situations‚ and one is more serious than the other‚" Du Plessis said.

Smith‚ test cricket’s No 1-ranked batsman‚ should have captained Australia in the fourth Test at the Wanderers‚ which starts on Friday.

But he has been banned for the match and seems certain to lose the leadership permanently.

"It’s almost like losing two players in one because he’s such a strong batsman‚" Du Plessis said.

"I also feel his leadership is good for the team so he’ll be a big loss for them."

The scandal is but the latest twist in a series plot that seems to have been scripted by drug-addled film students.

In little more than a dozen days of cricket‚ we’ve seen two altercations on staircases‚ an on-field shoulder charge‚ spectators ejected for poor behaviour‚ a player dropping the ball on another — how quaint‚ given everything else — and now this.

Six players have been on the match referee’s carpet‚ while Smith was charged by the head honcho himself: International Cricket Council CEO Dave Richardson.

"It’s been bizarre‚ crazy‚ ridiculous‚" Du Plessis said.

"We joke about it but it’s like a soap opera.

"There’s something happening every day. The two captains have both said it is a shame because this has been an incredible series between two strong teams.

"Apart from [Sunday]‚ it has been a very evenly matched series‚ amazing to watch.

"But there are way too many things happening away from the game that are taking the shine off."

Ah, yes‚ Sunday — when SA took all 10 of Australia’s wickets to win the third Test by 322 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

And so to the Wanderers.