Ball Tampering – Picadillo Or Crime?




With Shoaib Akhtar’s autobiography “Controversially Yours”, the spotlight is now on the issue of ball tampering. When a player illegally alters the condition of the ball it is referred to as ball tampering. Players are barred, by Law 42.3 of The Laws of Cricket from rubbing the ball on the ground, interfering with the seam or surface, or using any implement that can alter the condition of the ball to thereby gain unfair advantage. Generally, the purpose of altering the state of the ball is to achieve better bowling conditions.

Ball Tampering - Picadillo or Crime?

Ball Tampering – Picadillo or Crime?

Many an acrimonious situation has arisen due to the bitter act of ball-tampering. The picture of Pakistan refusing to take the field after the ball was changed by the umpires for having suspected ball-tampering is still etched in every cricket fanatic’s mind. Pakistan has become infamous with regard to this issue with many a controversy surrounding its players. Shahid Afridi received a 2 match ban for ball-tampering in a match versus Australia in 2006 when he was caught on lens as he was biting the ball in an attempt to readjust the seam. Pakistan’s very own Wasim Akram who was greatly reputed for reverse swing himself was quoted saying that the ball will swing anyway, tampered or otherwise so it hardly makes a difference!

In Shoaib Akhtar’s book he was quoted saying, “There are so many ways to prepare the ball; it’s not just a matter of scratching it. I have used my boot nails and zip of my back pocket, many players use Vaseline or gum on the ball”. Every cricketer would have done something or the other to bring about a change in the state of the ball is one fact which everyone has to accept. Indian players Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag too have been pulled up by the officials for tampering with the ball so have England’s Stuart Broad and James Anderson and so many other Aussies and South africans.

There is a dilemma now if ball-tampering should be legalized which is evoking strong opinions from all quarters. With cricket being a batsmen friendly game, the bowlers would be only too happy if this was made legal. Allan Donald, retired South African fast bowler says that preparing the ball should be allowed to readdress the balance between bat and ball and protect “the dying breed” from increasingly lifeless pitches. Though this would be impossible to legalise, various alternatives have been spoken about which would help the bowlers. This issue is one which has no conclusion, as long as there is a superiority of bat over ball every fast bowler who has faced the inequity will secretly hope for ball-tampering to be legalized and every batsmen will rejoice the fact that it is banned atleast during his hay days!

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