South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis is expected to play the Adelaide Test, as legal machinations behind his hearing for a ball-tampering charge delay proceedings until after the series against Australia.
On a day when a television reporter attempted to question du Plessis at Adelaide airport by pushing into the group of players and was shoulder charged out of the way by South Africa's security manager, it emerged that the ICC hearing is not likely to happen before the third 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
A major reason for the delay is Cricket South Africa saying 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 lawyers.
While it is understood that CSA's legal representative may arrive in Adelaide on Tuesday and there is some chance of the hearing taking place on Wednesday, it could end up occurring in South Africa, with the squad due to depart for home immediately after the end of the day-night match.
The convention of engaging lawyers if necessary has been in place ever since former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Rantunga brought lawyers 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 umpire Ross Emerson during an ODI in Adelaide 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 more carefully with contested charges ever since - ensuring match referees are supported by legal opinion if required.
Despite winning the series in Australia in emphatic fashion, 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 team's security manager Zunaid Wadee twice bundled a reporter out of the way as du Plessis walked through the airport. Reporters had been advised that crews were welcome to shoot vision but not to chase interviews. The footage quickly spread via social media.
South Africa's tour manager Mohammed Moosajee released a statement defending Wadee's actions. "The Australian media and Channel 9 News in particular have been advised on numerous occasions over the past few days that Cricket South Africa and captain, Faf du Plessis, are not in a position to comment on the alleged ball-tampering issue," he said.
"However, despite our best intentions to co-operate with the Australian media, Channel 9 News' behaviour has been disappointing. We have advised of our media protocol which has been blatantly ignored, both at the team's hotel on Friday and Saturday and again at the airport in Adelaide today. This is the third incident of a reporter aggressively harassing our players with blatant disrespect of the above-mentioned media protocol.
"The 'reporter' at the airport disrespected us and continued to harass Faf for comment. The 'reporter' was also in the unusual position of being in the middle of the players' walkway to the bus. He was advised to move three times, and did not adhere to this request. The 'reporter', who also had no official accreditation, then proceeded to lunge towards Faf with an unknown object causing a direct breach of security protocol. The reporter also shoved the team manager in the back.
"Throughout the tour we have respected all our media obligations and treated media with utmost respect. At the same time, we would like to see this respect reciprocated and will not accept such behaviour as displayed by the Channel 9 News reporter."