A brief history of 'ball tampering'

Written by: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee
Published: Monday, February 1, 2010, 17:12 [IST]
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A brief history of 'ball tampering'

In quite a bizarre incident in the cricket field Pakistan's stand-in captain Shahid Afridi was caught biting the ball in the final one-dayer against Australia. This episode has earned him a two match suspension. Afridi caught by television cameras chewing on one side of the ball while walking with bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in the fifth and final match at the WACA in Perth. Afridi has pleaded guilty and apologized for the incident.

Under Law 42, subsection 3 of the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. These are usually taken to include rubbing the ball on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object, or tampering with the seam of the ball.

Shahid Afridi isn't the first player to have been accused of ball tampering. We look at some of the incidents from the past which brought disrepute to the Gentleman's Game.

John Kenneth Lever in 1976

The former English left arm pacer became famous for what is known as the 'vaseline incident.' This after the Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi accused John Lever of using Vaseline to illegally polish the ball which enhanced swing and seam in an old ball in the Third Test at Madras in 1976-77. The claim was later rejected and Lever was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Wasim Akram in 1992

In 1992, after Akram had terrorized the English batsmen with prodigious amounts of movement from old balls along with Waqar Younis a section of the English press accused them of ball tampering. Though no video evidence was ever found many accused Wasim and Waqar of scuffing it up on one side of the ball with a soft drink bottle cap. This phenomenon later came to be known as reverse swing.

Michael Atherton in 1994

The English captain was accused of ball tampering during the a Test match with South Africa at Lords in 1994 after television cameras caught Atherton reaching into his pocket and then rubbing a substance on the ball. Atherton denied ball tampering, claiming that he had dirt in his pocket which he used to dry his hands.

Waqar Younis in 2000

Pakistani speedster was the first bowler to face a ban for ball tempering in 2000. Younis was found guilty lifting the seam off the ball during during an One Day International against South Africa in Colombo. Pakistani captain Moin Khan and all-rounder Azhar Mahmood were also hauled up by match referee John Reid but escaped with 30% fine each.

Rahul Dravid in 2004

In January 2004, Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid was fined after he rubbed a half-eaten lolly onto one side of the ball during an ODI against Zimbabwe in Australia. Match referee Clive Lloyd adjudged the application of an energy sweet to the ball as a deliberate offence although Dravid himself denied this was his intent.

Sachin Tendulkar in 2001

In the second test of India's 2001 tour of South Africa, match referee Mike Denness suspended Sachin Tendulkar for one game in light of alleged ball tampering. Television cameras picked up images that suggested Tendulkar may have been involved in cleaning the seam of the cricket ball in the second test match between India and South Africa at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth.

Pakistani Team in 2006

Perhaps one of the ugliest incidents on the cricket field happened at The Oval in 2006 during a Test Match between Pakistan and England. In an alleged ball-tampering issue Pakistan refused to take to the field for the evening session after being penalised for ball-tampering in the afternoon. Television cameras caught the umpires discussing the condition of the quarter seam. Pakistan are believed to have intended a protest against the decision by delaying their return after tea, however while they were refusing to play, the umpires awarded the game to England in accordance with the laws of cricket.

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