Johannesburg: South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said on Thursday that he felt the 12-month ban on disgraced Australia skipper Steve Smith was "harsh".
He told a media conference in Johannesburg that he was "very sorry" for Smith and had texted him a message of support.
Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned for 12 months and Cameroon Bancroft for nine months for attempted ball-tampering during the third Test in Cape Town last Saturday.
The Australian cheating plot was foiled when TV cameras spotted Bancroft seeking to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper.
Du Plessis, 33, was speaking on the eve of the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers of a drama-packed series in which South Africa hold a 2-1 lead.
"It's been a crazy week. I have compassion for what he's going through.
"I think he's one of the good guys and he's just been caught in a bad place," said Du Plessis, who has twice been found guilty of ball tampering himself, but was only fined and never banned.