The ICC rushed their decision to fine Faf du Plessis, and it now sets a dangerous and complicated precedent.
Firstly, the ICC were correct in exploring this situation. In this day and age, I’m all for retrospective action captured from TV footage. They had to look into this, because the rules do state that you’re not allowed to use an artificial substance in your mouth to shine the ball. Unintentional or not, rules are rules.
What I don’t agree with, though, was how quickly they came to a decision. Did they have to in order to determine whether Faf could play in the Adelaide Test? They wanted to sort out the case so quickly that Du Plessis’ lawyer, David Bekker, couldn’t even get a visa in time to fly over. This was something they should have taken their time with, as it’s opened up a bottomless can of worms.
Virat Kohli is the first proverbial worm, as footage has emerged of him shining the ball with chewing gum in his mouth in the first Test against England. What now?
If they’d taken their time to realise what their decision now means, I think they would have come to a different conclusion. What they should have done was acknowledge that Faf had an artificial substance in his mouth, and extend on that rule with genuine evidence which could suggest that it affected the movement of the ball. But they didn’t give themselves enough time to do this.
If an artificial substance in the mouth is illegal, then what do you say to all of the players who chew gum, who drink sugary drinks, who even eat bananas, or as Hashim Amla eluded to, biltong and nuts? If the amount of sugar in the saliva is the issue here, then how do you prove what is and what isn’t okay to eat or chew? What’s stopping players from eating and drinking sugary foods at lunch or in the change rooms?
It will be interesting to see what the Kohli verdict is now. Because, what’s the difference between a mint and gum? What conclusive evidence is there that a mint does something different to the ball that gum would? Some sources have said that the ICC have rejected the ball-tampering claims against Kohli as it was too long ago. This is going to cause a stir.
The rules have to change. Telling the players not to shine the ball when they have a mint, gum or anything for that matter in their mouth, is not enough anymore.
The ICC have to come up with evidence that certain substances will affect the ball, and they will have to ban these substances from being eaten or chewed on during the game.
Perhaps a rule might be introduced that says one player in the team can shine the ball. That way it will allow a stricter controlling of the rules.
By coming to the decision to fine Faf as quickly as they have, they will now be forced to take action very quickly and in great detail.
I for one, am intrigued to see what verdict they come to with Kohli now. Surely they will have to give him the same fine as Faf. If they don’t, then they’re basically saying that a mint does more damage to a cricket ball than gum. I can’t wait to see the scientific evidence behind that.
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