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Faf loses ball-tampering appeal, but still free to play

Cricket

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has lost his appeal against a ball-tampering conviction, but will be free to play in the first Test against Sri Lanka starting on Boxing Day.

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Du Plessis was found guilty by match referee Andy Pycroft of changing the condition of the ball after being caught on camera applying saliva to the ball with a mint in his mouth during the second Test against Australia in Hobart last month.

The issue exploded in the lead-up to the third Test in Adelaide, with South African security shoving a journalist trying to interview the Proteas skipper at Adelaide Airport. After a tribunal at Adelaide Oval, du Plessis was fined his entire match fee and had three demerit points added to his record, but was allowed to play in the ensuing match, with Australia won.

Nonetheless, the Proteas won the series 2-1, but the victory was overshadowed by what Du Plessis felt was an unjust targeting of him.

Du Plessis appealed against his punishment on Monday, questioning whether his actions changed the condition of the ball at all.

The Chair of the ICC’s Code of Conduct Commission, Michael Beloff, upheld the verdict overnight, Australian time, but stopped short of increasing the sanction to an automatic one-match ban.

A statement on the ICC’s official website read: “Under the provisions of the ICC Code of Conduct, Mr Du Plessis was represented by legal counsel in the appeal hearing convened in Dubai on Monday that lasted two-and-a-half hours, which the player himself joined via video link.”

“Having carefully considered the legal submissions made by the player and the ICC, Mr Beloff QC confirmed that Du Plessis was guilty of breaching Article 2.2.9 and that the original sanction of 100 per cent of his match fee was appropriate,” it said.

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive officer Dave Richardson welcomed the decision.

“It is the duty of the ICC to ensure fair play on the cricket field,” Richardson said in a statement.

“Although it was not picked up by the umpires at the time, when the incident came to our attention subsequently, we felt it was our responsibility to lay a charge in this case because the ICC can’t let such an obvious breach of this Law pass without taking any action.

“We are pleased that both the match referee and Mr Beloff QC have agreed with our interpretation of the Laws and hope that this serves as a deterrent to all players not to engage in this sort of unfair practice in the future.”

Cricket South Africa has accepted the decision and chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement: “We are satisfied with the matter being given due consideration by a person independent of the ICC. Both CSA and Faf believed that this appeal was imperative considering the important principles at stake.”

“In our view, the fact that Mr Beloff deliberated for some time after hearing complex legal arguments from both sides demonstrates that this matter does indeed require further consideration and clarification from the ICC and the MCC,” Lorgat said.

“Notwithstanding the outcome of the appeal and Mr Beloff’s helpful rulings on the matter, we hope that further reviews of the Code of Conduct and the laws of the game takes place as players will no doubt continue to seek clarification as to what is or is not permissible in the light of this case.”

Du Plessis, 32, was last week confirmed as South Africa’s new permanent captain after AB de Villiers resigned having missed three test series in a row due to an elbow injury.

Three years ago, Du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee when he rubbed the ball on the zip of his trouser pocket.

If a player accumulates four-to-seven demerit points within a two-year period they are converted into two suspension points, which brings a ban of one Test or two one-day internationals or Twenty20s.

-PA/AAP

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