A wise man once said: “It’s easy to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
Essentially, if you know what you stand for, then making the so called tough call is a piece of cake.
The ICC have an immaculate history of chasing all kinds of cheats from the game. Well, it doesn’t really, but when it comes to ball tampering, it rarely wavers. Just ask Sachin Tendulkar or Shahid Afridi or Sachin Tendulkar again.
The ICC have overnight convicted Faf du Plessis for being a cheat and it’s clear to see why.
Let’s take a quick look at the relevant law.
(a) Any fielder may:
(i) polish the ball provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time.
My understanding of the English language may be not be as sharp as others, but unless the mint in Faf’s mouth was made of all natural ingredients, then wiping its residue on the ball is a breach of the laws of cricket.
To be thorough, I did a quick google and discovered that there are virtually no brands of mint that are 100% natural. This means that mints are bad. A stain on cricket. But at least it is a pleasant smelling stain.
Some of the nonsense spouted by so called media experts and players is that mints have no proven impact on how a ball behaves. This may well be true, but until someone shows me a report from an aeronautical engineer, how can we be sure?
More to the point, it is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand. It matters not whether mint residue helps the Kookaburra zip through the air or spin more off the pitch. If the substance put on the ball is artificial, then the laws of cricket have been broken.
Why do people find that concept so damn hard to digest? It is binary. There is zero room for interpretation on this.
And it’s not as though Faf doesn’t have form. He was cricket’s first and only convicted ball tamperer who used his zipper.
But where there is adversity, opportunity can be found. Faf’s issue is not that he put something on the ball to alter it’s performance. It is that he put the wrong substance on the ball.
The law is quite clear. It is not ball tampering if you refrain from using artificial substances.
If Faf wants to remain legal, he needs to find things to put in his mouth that come straight from nature. Perhaps mash up a banana with his teeth and apply the resultant mush to the shiny side. Maybe urinate on it. There are so many options at his disposal.
So my message to those who think Faf was treated unfairly or that mints have no effect on the ball is clear: You are all wrong. Read law 42.3 again. It is not ambiguous. Faf did exactly what he shouldn’t have.
He is now a two time convicted cheat. And isn’t that an unfortunate truth.