It’s easier for a batsman to hit a straight ball, but one knows their way around a cricket ball, they can make things a lot more difficult for the batting team. Understanding the aerodynamics and physics of the cricket ball could ensure that the bowlers wreak havoc on the batting team.
Depending on its seam, the shiny side, the rougher side and how old the ball is, a bowler can swing the ball, reverse swing the ball or get better grip on it to bowl cutters through the pitch and make the batsman dance around the pitch.
These changes to the ball happen naturally or by following the rules of the games. Although, over the years, there have been times where the fielding team has tried to tamper with the ball to gain an advantage over the opposite side.
The process of illegally tampering or altering the condition of the ball is known as ball tampering. According to Law 41 of Laws of Cricket, all the actions that alter the condition of the ball are illegal.
Here’s a look at 5 ball tampering incidents in cricket history that made the headlines of the sports page.
Ball Tampering incidents in Cricket History
1. Mihael Atherton, 1994
In 1994 in a test match with South Africa at Lords, Michael Atherton was accused of applying a foreign substance on the match ball. The foreign substance that Atherton had in his pocket was found to be dirt.
Atherton’s initial claim was that he was using the dirt to dry his hands and denied any sort of ball tampering. But the camera’s told a different story as he was seen rubbing the foreign substance into the ball.
Atherton was called upon by the match referee for an explanation, but he stuck to his story. He was later fined 2000 pounds for lying to the match referee and illegally tampering with the match ball.
2. Pakistan Cricket Team, 2006
One of the biggest ball tampering controversy happened on day four of the final Test match between Pakistan and England in 2006. In the afternoon session of the match, the umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove awarded five penalty runs to England because they found Pakistan to have illegally tampered with the ball and changed the ball thereafter.
After tea, the Pakistan team did not come out to the field as a part of protest to the umpire’s decision. After having penalized and following a discussion over tea, the Pakistani team refused to continue the play.
After waiting for 15 minutes in the middle, the match was awarded to England as a result of forfeiture from the Pakistani team. Inzamam-Ul-Haq, the Pakistani captain claimed that his team did not hamper with the ball and there were no details provided by the umpires of the alleged ball tampering.
It was the first time a Test match was decided by way of forfeiture. The reverberations of the decisions were widespread. Inzamam was later cleared of the ball tampering charges, but was sanctioned for bringing the game into disrepute as a result of not taking the field and was banned for four ODI matches.
After the clearance from ball tampering charges, the Test match result was changed to draw in July of 2008. Although, owing to the decision of Inzamam bringing disrepute to the game, the ICC reversed its decision in February 2009 and awarded the match back to England.
3. Shahid Afridi, 2010
In a T20I match against Australia in January of 2010, Shahid Afridi was caught in the middle of a ball-tampering controversy. The then Pakistani T20 captain was caught on camera trying to take a bite out of the cricket ball.
It was probably the least subtle way of tampering with the cricket ball. After witnessing Afridi’s try on a feast on camera, the TV umpire informed the on-field umpires about Afridi’s actions. Afridi was seen on camera trying to re-adjust the seam of the ball and after the umpire’s intervention, the ball was eventually changed.
In a bizarre defence, he claimed that he was trying to smell the leather of the ball, but later pleaded guilty to ball tampering. The Pakistan captain was sanctioned with two T20I match ban for his appetite.
4. Faf Du Plessis, 2013
Faf Du Plessis was also caught in the middle of a ball tampering controversy in 2013. The incident took place on the third day of the second Test match of the series.
The South African fielder was captured on the camera scuffing the ball against the zip of his trousers. The immediate on field decision was to penalize the South African side by adding 5 runs to the Pakistan team’s total and change the ball.
The fielder did plead guilty to the tampering charges and the match referee imposed a 50% match fee fine on Du Plessis. The team manager believed that the penalty was a bit harsh and Graeme Smith denied that the act had any affect on the match result because South Africa won the match by a margin of an innings.
5. Australia v South Africa, 2018
This was the biggest ball tampering controversy that the cricket world had witnessed and the ramifications of this shook the Australian cricket team and their fans. The controversy, that later came to be known as the sandpaper gate scandal, took place during the third Test of the series.
There were several cameras working and trying to capture every moment of the game. Cameroon Bancroft was caught taking something out of his pocket and rubbing it against the ball. When the on-field umpires were informed by the TV umpire, they asked Bancroft about what was in his pocket.
He showed a sunglasses cover to the umpires, but was later shown on camera rubbing the ball with a yellow object and later concealing it in his pants. Cricket Australia later revealed that it was a sandpaper.
Bancroft accepted to ball tampering and it was said that it was planned by an unnamed leadership group. Then followed the reverberations, public outcry and the consequences of the ball tampering act.
Steve Smith (Captain), David Warner (Vice-Captain) and Cameroon Bancroft were all banned from international and domestic cricket in Australia for twelve, twelve and nine months respectively.
The three were charged with bringing the game to disrepute, they were suspended and were sent back to Australia following the test match. Amid the scandal, the Australian Coach, Darren Lehmann announced his resignation as well. This scandal marked one of the darkest times of Australia’s cricketing history.
Follow us on facebook for more sports news & updates