TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
FAF du Plessis’ appeal against his ball-tampering conviction has been set for December 19 – which means he could miss the first test against Sri Lanka.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) release on Tuesday confirmed the date of the appeal hearing and of the name of the presiding judicial commissioner, Michael Beloff.
An Oxford-educated English barrister who counts former British prime minister Tony Blair among his friends, Beloff has a prominent track record in sport – he sits on the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Lawyers for Du Plessis and the ICC, who brought the charge against South Africa’s captain after television cameras spotted a mint in his mouth while he was wetting his fingers to shine the ball during the second test against Australia in Hobart last month, will argue their cases in Dubai.
Du Plessis will join the proceedings on the telephone.
His punishment when he was found guilty by match referee Andy Pycroft was a fine and three demerit points.
But if Du Plessis is docked another point by Beloff he will be banned for the first test against the Lankans, which starts on December 26 in Port Elizabeth.
And that could happen, as was made plain in the release: “According to article 126.96.36.199 (of the ICC code of conduct), the judicial commissioner has the power to increase or decrease, amend or otherwise substitute a new decision on the appropriateness (or otherwise) of the sanction imposed at first instance, provided that any new sanction is within the permitted range of sanctions.”
Beloff thus has the power to add a demerit point to Du Plessis’ load.
The resultant ban, though inconvenient for a South African team who have rediscovered how to win under Du Plessis’ apparently effortless leadership, would defer the looming problem of how to accommodate AB de Villiers.
South Africa’s appointed one-day and test captain missed their series in those formats against Australia because of an elbow injury, but he should be good to go against Sri Lanka.
With South Africa’s batsmen performing above and beyond expectation to help win both rubbers against the Aussies in convincing fashion, fitting even a stellar talent like De Villiers into the team is a selectorial headache.
But if Du Plessis is banned that pain will ease, at least for the first test.