Ball-tampering in cricket: All you need to know about the banned practice

Vaseline, teeth, fingernails, dirt, saliva thickened by mints, bottle tops, trouser zips. And now, yellow adhesive tape.

Published: 26th March 2018 05:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2018 09:11 AM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Vaseline, teeth, fingernails, dirt, saliva thickened by mints, bottle tops, trouser zips. And now, yellow adhesive tape. These are tools to literally force the pace of the game, in an abstract and discreet manner. Players have conjured up innovative ways time and again to ensure that their spherical weapon of choice deviates from the aerodynamic tenets it usually adheres to. In other words, reverse swing.

“The art of shining the ball in a fair manner is something that has been around since forever. All players at this level come in with the knowledge of how to ‘make’ the ball as conducive it can be for extracting reverse swing,” explained former India pace-bowling all-rounder Madan Lal. “Everyone knows how to make the shiny side shinier, and keep the rough side rough. But using unfair means, like what happened in Cape Town, goes against the spirit of the game.”

Segueing to the why behind the inherent lure that comes in tow with resorting to ball-tampering is when things start to get more interesting. That this methodical scuffing adds more swing to pacers’ arsenal is a fact that is as well-known as the nonexistence of the abominable snowman, but Lal’s dissection of the advantages that such tampering brings to the table reveals the actual extent of the skew these alterations can bring about in a game.

“Yes, fast bowlers will definitely get an upper hand with a tampered ball, but spinners too might find a bit of extra purchase or grip. Reverse swing and pace are a lethal combination. When bowlers with those extra miles get such a ball in their hand, batsmen will find it difficult to counter that movement, a strategy which they might opt for against relatively slower bowlers.

“When in such a situation, all the bowlers — particularly the quicker ones — need to do is to find the right length, peg away at it, and get the occasional delivery to reverse swing. That is bound to create a good bit of doubt in the batsman’s mind.”

Much like Lal did while elaborating upon this point, it is very easy to extrapolate this line of thought into a robust stance against ball-tampering, even with the likes of Richard Hadlee and Barry Richards being among the vocal advocates of its legalisation.

“Once a pacer has such a ball,  all he needs to do is land it in the right spot. The concept of talent and proving oneself will automatically go out of the window. The world has seen many quality exponents of reverse swing, and making legal space for such a thing will be detrimental for the game.”


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