Ball Tampering or Doctoring?

Saleque Sufi

'Are Aussies cheap?' former greats sigh

In cricket, ball tampering is an action in which a fielder or a bowler illegally alters the condition of the ball. The primary motivation is to interfere with the aerodynamics of the ball to aid swing bowling.

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The one side of the ball is roughened up more than the other facilitating reverse swing. When Sarfraz Nawaz and later Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Yunis started using reverse swing as a potent weapon in their armory world cricket started focusing eagle eyes against their actions and activities.

Few western universities started researching. Englishmen and Australians learned the tricks and changed the name to ball doctoring.

But it remained always a question where is battery limit of ball doctoring. Rubbing the ball vigorously on the trousers and moistening it with saliva are OK. Some wickets in the sub continent with dry and hard surfaces also helps balls getting rough and smart bowlers take good care of the ball.

So far so good but using anything artificial like sand paper, tape or any other foreign objects to alter the ball is definitely illegal and punishable offence.

That is what caught red handed of Australian youngster Bancroft was doing recently on a plot master minded by Smith and Warner.

ICC and CA took immediate actions and all three are now suspended from active cricket. It is sad for the gentlemen’s game. Off course with betting, match fixing, back door parleys for manipulating matches going on especially for franchise basis T20 tournaments cricket is no longer a gentlemen’s game. It is now a tradable commodity for commerce.

Puritans still love Test cricket. Still it thrills many when fast bowlers in tandem run in and hurl deliveries at 140Km+ against the best technically equipped batsmen ready for taking them on.

Who did not enjoy Roberts – Marshal – Holding Garner against Chapels or who did not enjoy Lillee Thomson bowling against Haynes, Greene, Rowe, Lloyd, Richards? These bowlers did not need ball tampering or doctoring. The players were as fair as the white flannels they wear. Cricket was played with highest integrity and honesty.

Cricket started changing faces with Kerry Packer circus of disco cricket. As soon as colored clothes changed whites commercialization started crippling. Gambling started, match fixing came into play. The honesty and integrity went to back seat. It is for money, money and money everywhere. Instead of globalization with the truest spirit cricket is now confined to some top countries and boards as they are cash cows.

We are not sure in the avalanche of T20 and now even T10 how ICC is going to keep cricket clean of cheating?