South Africa’s Test captain will miss the Boxing Day Test if he loses Monday’s appeal © Getty Images
Faf du Plessis has confirmed he will go ahead with his appeal against his ball-tampering charge, even though he risks a match ban if found guilty by the judicial commissioner. Du Plessis, who was fined 100% of his match fee of the Hobart Test last month, was confirmed as South Africa’s permanent Test captain on Tuesday, but told the media his new job will not stand in the way of his attempt to clear his name.
“(Withdrawing) it sounds like the logical thing to do but it’s purely from a non-cricket perspective,” he said at Newlands on Wednesday. “I didn’t agree with the way it was handled, how it happened and unfolded and the hearing that took place and how everything works when it comes to those hearings. Even if it meant the decision came out the way that I didn’t want it to, for me its the principle of standing up to something that you don’t agree with and that’s what a captain is all about – making sure you stand your ground and fight for whatever the cause is.”
Video footage from the match showed du Plessis shining the ball with saliva that had also come into contact with a mint that was clearly visible in his mouth. It was in violation of Law 42.2 which states that no artificial substance should be used to change the conditions of the ball. The ICC laid charges, as the images appeared after the window for the umpires to report it had passed and du Plessis had pleaded not guilty. He admitted to having the mint in his mouth and even said he was not trying to hide it. He claimed that sugar from sweets was in every players’ mouth and it didn’t amount to contravening the code of conduct.
Several current and former players agreed – Australian captain Steve Smith was among them – and CSA called on the ICC to clarify the term “artificial.” Du Plessis was found guilty nonetheless, fined the maximum match fee and earned three demerit points. He immediately announced his decision to appeal, which CSA later supported. They also remained hopeful the ICC would use this as a test case to re-look at the law.
However, the chances of that happening seem slim after the MCC Committee meeting in Mumbai during which their head of cricket John Stephenson said du Plessis, “flagrantly contravened the law.” Should Michael Beloff, who is set to hear the appeal, agree with Stephenson, he could choose to sanction du Plessis further and hand him a one-match ban.
That would mean du Plessis would have to sit out the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka, due to be his first as permanent Test captain. With AB de Villiers unavailable because of injury, South Africa will be in a tricky position to pick a replacement leader. Beloff could also uphold the verdict as it stands or rescind it altogether, which what du Plessis is aiming for.
The three demerit points against him also put him at risk of missing matches because all he needs is one more – and he could that get that for any Level Two offence including dissent – to be forced to sit out a game. Having those demerit points off his record may also be on du Plessis’ mind as he goes into his appeal hearing next Monday – December 19 – a week before the first Sri Lanka Test.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo