Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
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South Africa will be without captain Faf du Plessis for the third Test at the Wanderers after he was suspended for one Test and fined 20% of his match fee for maintaining a slow over-rate during South Africa's nine-wicket win over Pakistan at Newlands. Du Plessis' team-mates were also fined 10% of their match fees.
An extra half hour was added to all of the first three days of play at Newlands, while South Africa's use of an all-pace attack contributed to the time taken to get through allocated overs during days on which they bowled. South Africa's seamers bowled almost 122 overs across two innings in the match.
"The team management and Faf have accepted and respect the decision as it falls under the ICC player code of conduct," South Africa's media manager Lerato Malekutu said. "However, they did feel there could be a bit of flexibility given the four-pronged seam attack, taking 20 wickets within three days and playing a general positive brand of cricket, rather than trying to delay/slow down the match."*
The selectors will make a decision "in the next few days" over du Plessis' replacement for the third Test. In his absence, South Africa may call on the captaincy experience of Hashim Amla or Aiden Markram, both of whom sat out the latter stages of a bruising effort in the second Test against Pakistan, but are expected to be fit to play at the Wanderers. Aside from those two, Dean Elgar has captaincy experience both as an Under-19 cricketer, and at Test level when he stood in for du Plessis against England in 2017, following the birth of du Plessis' first child.
The charge against du Plessis was laid by on-field umpires Bruce Oxenford and Joel Wilson, and third umpire S Ravi. Match referee David Boon imposed the suspension on du Plessis after South Africa were ruled to be one over short after time allowances were taken into consideration.
In accordance with Article 2.22.1 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Players Support Personnel, which relates to minor over-rate offences, players are fined 10% of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount.
As du Plessis had previously been found guilty of a minor over-rate offence during the Centurion Test against India in January, this offence constituted his second minor over-rate offence within a 12-month period. The suspension means du Plessis will miss the third Test against Pakistan, which starts in Johannesburg January 11.
*9am GMT, Jan 7: The article was updated with the quote