South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has had his appeal against ball tampering rejected by the International Cricket Council, but is free to play in the next match the Proteas take part in.
Du Plessis was charged with changing the condition of the ball in South Africa’s series-sealing win over Australia in Hobart last month and subsequently fined 100 per cent of his match fee, with three demerit points added to his record.
The Chair of the ICC’s Code of Conduct Commission, The Hon Michael Beloff QC, upheld Hobart Match Referee Andy Pycroft’s original decision that du Plessis had used a mint to change the condition of the ball in Australia’s second innings on day four of the second Test at Blundstone Arena.
"It is the duty of the ICC to ensure fair play on the cricket field," said ICC Chief Executive David Richardson.
"Although it was not picked up by the umpires at the time, when the incident came to our attention subsequently, we felt it was our responsibility to lay a charge in this case because the ICC can’t let such an obvious breach of this Law pass without taking any action.
"We are pleased that both the Match Referee and Mr Beloff QC have agreed with our interpretation of the Laws and hope that this serves as a deterrent to all players not to engage in this sort of unfair practice in the future.
"It goes without saying that we will be reviewing the outcome to determine if any additional guidelines are needed to provide further clarity to the players and umpires around this type of offence.
"However we are satisfied that the Law is clear and is implemented consistently."
Cricket South Africa have accepted the Mr Beloff's decision to uphold du Plessis' guilty charge.
"We are satisfied with the matter being given due consideration by a person independent of the ICC. Both CSA and Faf believed that this appeal was imperative considering the important principles at stake," said CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat.
"In our view, the fact that Mr Beloff deliberated for some time after hearing complex legal arguments from both sides demonstrates that this matter does indeed require further consideration and clarification from the ICC and the MCC.
"Notwithstanding the outcome of the appeal and Mr Beloff’s helpful rulings on the matter, we hope that further reviews of the Code of Conduct and the laws of the game takes place as players will no doubt continue to seek clarification as to what is or is not permissible in the light of this case."
The two-and-a-half hour hearing took place in Dubai on Monday where du Plessis was represented by legal counsel while he joined via video link.
While Mr Beloff upheld the decision, he had the power to increase or decrease the punishment depending on the outcome of the hearing, meaning the South Africa skipper could have been suspended for his first Test as full-time captain against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day.
"Had I concluded as did the Match Referee, that the Appellant (du Plessis) was not telling the truth when he claimed that he believed that his actions were compatible with the Code and the Laws, I would have given serious consideration to the imposition of Suspension Points, not least because of the special responsibility imposed upon a captain, especially of a Test match side," Beloff said.
Du Plessis, who is now South Africa’s permanent Test captain after AB de Villiers relinquished the role, pleaded his innocence throughout the ordeal, repeatedly expressing his feelings that every team manipulates the ball like he had been accused of doing.
"I feel like I've done nothing wrong ... it's not like I was trying to cheat or anything," du Plessis said last month.
"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.
"I think it's such a grey area in the laws of cricket and I think it's something that now will be looked at.
"I just think it's opened up a can of worms going forward.
"I felt I've done nothing wrong. I was shining the cricket ball. I've done it my whole career.
"To make such a big thing of it, I think it was just blown out of proportion by everyone."
During the hearing, du Plessis explained he uses mints or sweets to preserve the ball in a new and shiny state for as long as possible.
"Basically, we use sweets for two reasons," du Plessis said. "One was that my mouth was very dry and I wanted to try and get a bit of saliva going.
"And the second is to make sure that you can keep the ball as new and as shiny and preserve that shine for as long as possible.
"… I was trying to preserve by getting my saliva or whatever is on my tongue onto the ball to try and stay as good as long as possible.
"… we have mints in our pockets and then whenever I feel like it is my time to shine the ball or not even put it on always when I get the ball because the ball comes to you randomly but when it was my time to shine the ball, that was one of the occasions when I put a sweet into my mouth, yeah to try and see if it can help preserve the hardness or whatever of the ball."
Mr Beloff concluded by saying that it is up to the ICC, Marylebone Cricket Club and the game’s rule-makers to determine where "the line needs to be drawn and what conduct is or is not considered to be offensive to the sport of cricket".