TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
CRICKETERS the world over will have to continue keeping their mints under their tongues to avoid punishment for transgressing the game’s ball-tampering regulations.
That’s the upshot of a decision by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) world cricket committee to recommend not changing the laws on the illegal but widespread practice of using artificial aids – sugar is a prime suspect – to help the ball retain its shine.
“The world cricket committee believes that no changes should be made to law 42.3(a): the match ball – changing its condition,” the MCC said in a release on Tuesday that followed a two-day meeting in Mumbai.
The MCC are the custodians of cricket’s laws and are due to present a revised version in time for implementation on October 1 next year.
The ball-tampering issue hit the headlines in Australia last month when South African captain Faf du Plessis made the mistake of allowing television cameras to pick up a mint in his mouth as he wet his fingers to work on the ball.
He was found guilty, fined and docked three demerit points.
But there was plenty of empathy and support for Du Plessis, including from Australian captain Steve Smith, who said, “We along with every other team around the world shine the ball the same way.”
That didn’t cut much ice with the MCC.
“The recent incident involving Faf du Plessis brought this law into focus but MCC’s position – supported by the world cricket committee – is that the law is clear, and to try to be too prescriptive by listing banned substances would be counterproductive, as something will be missed in the process of such drafting.”
Du Plessis’ appeal will be heard on December 19, and if his bid fails and he is given a fourth demerit point he will be banned for the first test against Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth on December 26.
The MCC is not the International Cricket Council (ICC), in whose hands Du Plessis’ fate rests.
But the views of the committee, which is chaired by former England captain Mike Brearley, carry weight with the ICC.
So Du Plessis might want to consider withdrawing his appeal, especially with Brearley telling reporters in Mumbai, “If you speed you’d probably get away with it. But not everyone does. Sometimes you are caught.
“And when you are caught flagrantly doing something, you deserve to face the penalty, whatever that penalty is. Which seems to me as far as I know is what happened to Faf du Plessis.
“The fact that other people do it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t catch the odd person who does it flagrantly.”
Another member of the committee, MCC head of cricket John Stephenson, was on the same page: “My advice to (players) would be to not contravene the law, which is very clear.
“I was part of that (Du Plessis) hearing. In my opinion what he did flagrantly contravened the law. He put his finger straight on the mint, straight on the ball, and was caught on camera.
“It is really a very clear case of ball-tampering.”
Other decisions taken at the Mumbai meeting were that the edges of bats should measure no more than 40mm and their depths limited to 67mm, and that players should face being sent off for “threatening an umpire; physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator; any other act of violence on the field of play”.