South African Test team's stand-in captain Faf du Plessis has been indicted by the ICC for ball tampering allegations. The ICC has charged the right-hander with a level 2 offence. However, Du Plessis has pleaded not guilty and is looking for legal advice to appeal against the charge.
The ICC confirmed in a statement on Friday that du Plessis had been charged for breaching Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct following television footage that showed the stand-in skipper shining the ball with mint saliva during the fourth day's play in the second Test in Hobart.
The charge relates to changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 and has been laid by the ICC Chief Executive David Richardson who has exercised his right to do so according to Article 3.1.3 of the code, and the matter will be heard by match referee Andy Pycroft in the coming days.
The incident happened during the 54th over of the Australian second innings in the Hobart Test when Kagiso Rabada came on to bowl with the hosts tottering at 5-150. The footage showed Du Plessis – with a round, white lolly on his tongue – licking his finger before rubbing the Kookaburra ball and repeating the act at least two more times.
Earlier in the day, the entire South African team had gathered together, with Hashim Amla leading them, to address the media in support of their captain. "To a lot of people it sounds more like sour sweets," Amla said. "Maybe that we’ve played very good cricket. The timing of it is a bit weird too."
"I’m just trying to clear up what we think is an absolutely wrongful allegation. The reason everybody is here to stand together really and show solidarity about something we thought was a joke. It’s not April," the Cricket Australia website quoted him as saying.
He further went on to state, "The allegations against Faf were very farcical, a really ridiculous thing. As a team, we’re standing strong. We’ve done nothing wrong. For us, it’s basically a joke."
The charges against Du Plessis come as a surprise as former England captain Marcus Trescothick in 2009 admitted he used mints to help produce saliva, which kept the ball newer for a longer period during the 2005 series. No action was taken against him then. However, the ICC reiterated law 42.3 thereafter and they also went on to state that they would not ban players sucking on mints.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of Du Plessis' appeal as all level 2 breaches carry an imposition of a fine between 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the applicable match fee and/or up to two suspension points, and three or four demerit points.