The ball-tampering saga that engulfed South Africa’s recent tour of Australia looks set to come to a head after the International Cricket Council confirmed the date of Faf du Plessis’ appeal hearing.
The ICC announced on Tuesday that it will hear du Plessis’ case on December 19, with Michael Beloff QC appointed as the Judicial Commissioner to hear the appeal from the stand-in South Africa skipper.
Legal counsel for both the ICC and Cricket South Africa will attend the hearing in Dubai, while du Plessis will join via telephone link.
The 32-year-old was found in November to have breached the ICC’s Code of Conduct for applying an ‘artificial substance to the ball’ after being caught on camera putting saliva to the Kookaburra’s surface while sucking on a sweet during the second Test in Hobart.
Du Plessis was found guilty by the ICC and fined his entire match fee from the second Test, but he avoided a ban for the third Test, and Cricket South Africa confirmed they would appeal the verdict last month.
"I was shining the cricket ball. I have been doing that my whole career. Every single team I have played in does exactly the same thing,” du Plessis said before the Adelaide Test.
"It's not something that's frowned upon by anyone, not even the umpires ... I just think it was a little bit blown out of proportion."
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said he was disappointed that the Proteas skipper opted to appeal and insisted the game’s governing body would continue to crack down on players who infringe when shining the ball, even though he admits it’s a difficult area to properly police.
"This has always been an issue that’s been quite difficult to police," Richardson said in November.
"Even before we spoke about using mints and sweets, lip ice (balm) - and we’ve been using lip ice and sunscreen on our faces for years - we understand that inadvertently in shining the ball there’s a potential for it to get onto the ball.
"And for that reason we’re not going to go around wildly accusing players of cheating and using the lip ice, sunscreen or sweets.
"We’ve taken the approach that we will only really charge someone if it’s obviously being done for that particular purpose.
"These decisions are not taken lightly because it was just so obvious under the current laws that we thought we had to report him."
Should the ICC uphold their guilty verdict, du Plessis could face a stint on the sidelines.
According to the Code of Conduct, the Judicial Commissioner has the power to “increase or decrease” the sanction that was originally handed down, meaning the ICC could suspend him from upcoming matches.