Faf du Plessis’ appeal against his conviction for ball-tampering, and the fine of 100 per cent of his match fee, has been dismissed.
Judicial commissioner Michael Beloff, decided that the Proteas captain applied an artificial substance to the ball when he used his saliva, liberally flavoured by a mint in his mouth, to shine the ball during the second Test in Hobart on 22 Nov.
‘The saliva/mint or the combination thereof was an “artificial substance”, although the saliva per se is not,’ said Beloff. ‘If the drinking of gin is prohibited it is not a defence to say that it was mixed with tonic.’
Du Plessis had been found guilty and fined by match referee Andy Pycroft, who also imposed a penalty of three demerit points.
But Beloff decided that he would not increase the penalty, taking into consideration Du Plessis’ 14 years of experience as a first-class cricketer, that he was a role model and that he had already suffered damage to his reputation.
Du Plessis had argued at the hearing in Dubai on Monday that the word ‘artificial’ in the charge was not defined, and pointed out that many players used saliva to shine the ball while sucking mints or sweets.
In his judgment released on Wednesday afternoon, Beloff found that Du Plessis, ‘applied the substance to the match ball and did so intentionally’.
‘As to what is an artificial substance, neither Code, Law nor Guidance define it.’ he said. ‘The adjective “artificial” is ordinarily used as the opposite of natural. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally” which the Appellant was prepared to accept. There is nothing in the regulatory context to require, in my view, any alternative or different definition.
“The consequence of his action was to alter the condition of the ball, or was likely to do, in the relevant sense, that is to say, it altered the status quo ante of the match ball (i.e. 12 its condition prior to the polishing). Whether that can be described as maintenance (i.e. restoring the ball to its pristine condition) or enhancement, (i.e. improving its condition from what it was prior to shining), matters not,’ Beloff wrote.
This left Du Plessis one demerit point away from missing a match. Any Level 2 offence – ranging from dissent to public criticism of a match-related incident – could lead to him facing suspension.