South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis is expected to be free to play the Adelaide Test, as legal machinations behind his impending hearing on a ball tampering charge delay proceedings until after the series against Australia concludes.
On a day when a television reporter attempting to question du Plessis was shoulder charged out of the way by South Africa’s security manager at Adelaide airport, it emerged that the ICC code of conduct hearing relating to the ball tampering charge is now highly likely to be delayed until after the Test is over.
Disappointed.. such provocative behaviour from reporters.Let a man walk in peace.Ask with manners n courtesy and u prob will get a response.
— hashim amla (@amlahash) November 21, 2016
That may mean the hearing could take place in South Africa rather than in Adelaide, with the squad due to depart for home ports immediately after the end of the day-night match.
A major reason for the delay is Cricket South Africa’s red flag that they have engaged legal representation for du Plessis ahead of the hearing. This takes proceedings outside the usual territory in which a player and team management deals directly with the relevant ICC match referee and calls for the governing body to also engage legal backing.
That convention has remained in place ever since Sri Lanka’s captain Arjuna Rantunga brought lawyers with him to a hearing in Perth after he was charged with bringing the game into disrepute. He was accused of holding up play after Muttiah Muralitharan was called for throwing by the umpire Ross Emerson during a triangular series ODI at Adelaide Oval in January 1999.
The match referee for that series, Peter van der Merwe, was left to give Ranatunga a watered down suspended sentence after being threatened with legal action, and the ICC have treaded far more carefully with contested charges ever since – namely ensuring match referees are supported by legal opinion if required.
Despite winning the series over Australia in the most emphatic fashion possible, South Africa’s indignation at du Plessis’ charge for ball tampering has dominated the past few days. From the moment Hashim Amla spoke to the press in Melbourne on Friday with the entire squad behind him, South Africa have taken on a pugilistic mentality.
This was summed up on Monday in Adelaide, when the security manager Zunaid Wadee twice bundled a reporter out of the way as du Plessis walked through the airport in full sunglasses and headphones mode. The footage quickly spread around the globe, underlining how intensely South Africa are feeling wronged, and how ham-fistedly they have taken to showing it.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.