Every sport is to be played within a set of rules that govern its nature and shape it’s identity. You are not to tamper with the spirit of the sport. You are also not to resort to any vile measures or malpractices that hurt the game or pose a threat to interfere with the outcome of a contest. In this regard, even a four-year-old would suggest that ball-tampering is an inexcusable act and therefore, stands no place in the sport. But despite the obvious impact of this foul practice, it has a place in the context of the modern sport.
Cricket, therefore, is not a complete stranger to episodes of ball tampering. They have happened in the past and perhaps, they shall occur in the near future too. In the light of the recent events at Cape Town, a biting scenario of Cameron Bancroft applying to the core surface of the red ball a yellowish substance that was masqueraded as something like a cloth (purportedly to be used for wiping dust of the batsman’s glasses) caught the attention of the umpires and resultantly, Bancroft was pulled aside. So was Steven Smith. Imagine the plight for the Australian national team and the cricket board?
And why not, you ought to be asked? Ball tampering is, nonetheless, a shoddy occurrence. One that cricket is certainly better off without. So we take a quick trip to the past and fast forward to some strange instances where the unfortunate act resulted in players being reprimanded for acting foul and putting at stake the beautiful spirit of the gentleman’s game.
One of the leading voices of international cricket today, being a common figure in the commentary box and someone who resolutely led England to many a fighting Test battles in the past, Atherton is a renowned personality for English cricket. But back in 1994, not everything that Michael Atherton did was that appealing or renowned.
During an ongoing contest at the Mecca of Cricket, “Lords”, Atherton was accused of ball tampering by his opponents: South Africa. The television cameras back then caught Atherton reaching out to his pockets in a deliberate attempt to rub the ball’s surface with an unknown object. This wasn’t a pleasant sight by any means.
The god of cricket involved in a dubious incident on the cricket field? Can this even be true? Believe it or not, the master-blaster or quite simply, the greatest batsman the game has ever seen was involved with a random episode of ball tampering when during the second test of India’s tour to South Africa, the crowd and umpires at Port Elizabeth found Sachin tampering with the seam of the ball. He was perhaps unintentionally involved in scuffing the threaded portion of the seam of the ball and it made the incident a rather alarming event.
Another Englishman again, what on earth had gone wrong? Apparently in a rather sedate manner, the former prodigious run scorer from England, someone who batted with élan at the very top of the order, confessed in his autobiography about applying mint on the surface of the ball to aid bowlers by providing them with more swing. Not that having confessed to the illegitimate act makes Trescothick’s wrongdoing any less blatant for the damage had been rendered back then, he still had the heart to open up about the incident.
Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad
It’s quite disenchanting to note that the country responsible for discovering the sport, rather creating it was in also responsible for maligning it. Not to mention, on a few occasions. Anderson and Broad had apparently rubbed the ball on the surface of the ground and even plied it to the spikes on their boots during the 3rd Test versus South Africa in 2010. Thankfully, their captain Hussein didn’t support them and bereaved of any pleasure of having discovered such an abhorrent act by two quality players in his side.
Boom-Boom’s career was as legendary as it was plagued by a few run-ins with temperamental bouts of exchange whether with teammates or opponents. He was also someone who was criticised of being engaged in ball-tampering very vehemently when during 2010 in a T20 against Australia, Afridi bit the seam of a white ball during Pakistan’s bowling inning. He was apparently chipping off some extra layers of threads by simply tugging the ball beneath his teeth; a really eerie and unwanted sight.
Faf Du Plessis
Dear o’ dear, if there’s an incident that Faf would want to desperately do away from his career, then it would be the unwanted mint-gate in 2016, wherein the Proteas captain appeared to be applying saliva from a mint he was chewing to the surface of the red ball in a contest against Australia. Ironically, the same happened to his side this time around.