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ICC voices displeasure over du Plessis ball-tampering appeal

ICC voices displeasure over du Plessis ball-tampering appeal

ADELAIDE: The International Cricket Council (ICC) voiced disappointment on Friday after South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said he will appeal his conviction for ball-tampering.

Du Plessis was fined his match fee after being caught on camera sucking a sweet, or mint, and rubbing the ball with his saliva in an alleged attempt to alter its flight during last week’s second Test against Australia.

“The ICC is disappointed that Faf du Plessis has chosen not to accept the findings of match referee Andy Pycroft and will instead exercise his right to appeal,” the ICC said, adding that an independent Judicial Commissioner will hear the appeal as soon as possible.

Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement late on Thursday that du Plessis’s decision was made after he and his legal team studied the written reasons provided by the match referee.

“In his mind Faf is clear that he did not alter the condition of the ball nor did he intend to do so and that the match referee was not correct to find him guilty,” Lorgat said. “He is understandably feeling aggrieved.”

Pycroft found du Plessis guilty at an ICC hearing in Adelaide this week. It is the second time he has been fined for ball-tampering, after he was docked 50 percent of his match fee in 2013 in the second Test against Pakistan.

But Pycroft said it was treated as a first offence under the version of the ICC’s code of conduct that came into force in September.

As well as the fine, du Plessis had three demerit points added to his disciplinary record. If he collects another point within 24 months, they will be converted to suspension points and he will be banned.

Lorgat said CSA supported the appeal “as there are issues relating to fair and just process, interpretation of the rules, science and performance that need to be considered”.

In a statement, the ICC reinforced that under the laws of cricket “a player should not use artificial substances to shine the ball”.

“The ICC understands that to include, but is not limited to, sunscreen, lip ice and residue from sweets,” it said. “The ICC does not wish to prevent players from using these substances for legitimate purposes, however, any deliberate attempt to apply such substances to the ball, as was the case here, will not be acceptable.”

It added that umpires would be instructed to remind all teams of the laws as they stand.

“Following the appeal we will review the matter along with our members and the MCC to see if there are any learnings to be taken from this issue,” it said.

Du Plessis, who put the row behind him to score a gritty century Thursday in the third Test against Australia in Adelaide, has warned authorities have opened a ‘can of worms’.

“For me [ball-tampering] is picking the ball, scratching the ball. Shining the ball, I think all cricketers would say, is not in the same place,” he said this week.

Meanwhile, India skipper Virat Kohli dismissed ball-tampering claims on Friday after footage showed him sucking a mint and shining the ball — following a similar case involving South Africa’s captain.

Kohli said the allegations, aired by media, were intended to take the focus off India’s Test series with England, where the hosts are 1-0 up after two matches.

“It’s just that some people are trying to take the focus away from the series and good luck to them,” said Kohli, in his first response to the ball-tampering claims. “We are just focused on what we have to do. It happened in Australia when South Africa won the series. I’m surprised the issue, of what I’ve been told, came up in Rajkot but there was no mention of it until the game was over in Visakhapatnam.

“To me a newspaper article doesn’t matter over the decision of ICC. We as cricketers respect that only.”

The pictures of Kohli were from the first Test in Rajkot, meaning they fell outside the five-day window for the ICC to take action.

Du Plessis has won sympathy from several players including Australia captain Steve Smith and England’s Chris Woakes, who said it was a ‘grey area’ as players commonly have sweets and sweetened drinks on the field.

“I think Woakes summed up quite nicely yesterday actually. It is a bit of a grey area at the moment,” England captain Alastair Cook said on Friday. “I actually haven’t quite studied the facts closely in terms of whether taking the sweet straight to the ball kind of with the saliva, or was he just having a lolly in his mouth.”

He added: “I think the players now after the last 10 days are just looking to the ICC to clarify what is acceptable what is not acceptable.”

Cook also played a straight bat when asked whether sweetened saliva is better for shining the ball, saying he doesn’t know “whether it helps or not”.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2016

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