TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
FAF du Plessis will have to keep his chewing gum on the bedpost overnight after the International Cricket Council (ICC) made no announcement about his appeal against a ball-tampering conviction on Monday.
The hearing, chaired by judicial commissioner and prominent sports lawyer Michael Beloff, was scheduled to start at noon (South African time) in Dubai with Du Plessis set to join the discussions on the phone.
Just after 8pm (Dubai time) a tweet was posted on the ICC Media account: “Faf du Plessis’ appeal hearing against match referee’s decision has ended, Michael Beloff QC has reserved judgement, decision in due course.”
Which means, essentially, that Beloff needs to go away and think before making up his mind.
Match referee Andy Pycroft fined Du Plessis his entire match fee and slapped him with three demerit points after South Africa’s captain was caught slathering the ball with as much of his own spit as his fingers could carry during the second test against Australia in Hobart last month.
All good. Except that a mint was blatantly visible in Du Plessis’ mouth when he inserted his fingers to fetch that spit. And that was not at all good in terms of law 42.3, which bars the use of artificial substances, like sugar, in attempts to manage the ball.
Du Plessis has maintained his innocence steadfastly, telling reporters in Cape Town last week that he “didn’t agree with the whole way it happened and unfolded, even the hearing that took place and how everything works when it comes to those hearings.
“Even if it meant that it was a decision that came out in a way I didn’t want it to, for me its the principle of standing up to something that you don’t agree with.”
It is within Beloff’s power to decrease or increase Du Plessis’ punishment, which means he could be banned for the first test against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park next Monday.
Reading anything into Beloff taking time over his decision would be ill-advised.
As much as he could be mulling whether to rescinder one of more of Du Plessis’ demerit points he could be asking himself if anything should stop him from adding a fourth and triggering a suspension.