Cricketers have never been shy of trying ingenious ways to gain any sort of advantage on the field. Some may call it cheating, others resourceful. But the fact is players at the highest level constantly push the limits of what is permissible during a match in order to give their team the edge.
Australia’s ball-tampering controversy during the third Test in Cape Town has sent shock waves across the world, not because a player was caught tampering with the ball but because captain Steve Smith admitted it was a collective decision by the senior members to go ahead with it.
While the spotlight is not on how the Aussies attempted to cheat the game, the way they went about doing it makes for interesting viewing. Cameron Bancroft isn’t the first player to be caught trying to alter the condition of the ball by unfair means. Here we take a look at the items used over the years to ‘make’ the ball:
The most outrageous attempt at ball-tampering. During an ODI against Australia in Perth in 2010, Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi picked up the ball and started to bite into it oblivious to the cameras focused on him. He was banned for two T20s.
In 2010 during an ODI in England, Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar dropped the ball while walking back to the pavilion and stepped on it. Akhtar had earlier been fined for picking on the ball with his fingernail.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was caught on camera sucking on a mint during the second Test in Hobart in 2016 before using his saliva to shine the ball. Du Plessis fined 100 percent of match fee. Rahul Dravid was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for rubbing a cough lozenge on the ball during a 2004 ODI against Zimbabwe.
Quite a common practice to rough up one side of the ball. Players like Vernon Philander (2014 Galle Test against Sri Lanka) and Waqar Younis (2000 ODI against Sri Lanka) have been found guilty of using their finger nails to rough up the ball. In 2001, Sachin Tendulkar was accused of using his fingernails to tamper with the ball during the Port Elizabeth Test but his ban was overturned.
New Zealand players Chris Pringle and the late Martin Crowe admitted upon retirement that they used bottle tops to gouge the ball during the 1990 Faisalabad Test against Pakistan. The logic given was that both sides were doing it so the umpired turned a blind eye.
Faf du Plessis was earlier charged for using a foreign object to change the condition of the ball in a 2013 Test against Pakistan in Dubai. He appeared to rub the ball against the zipper on his trouser pocket and was fined 50 per cent of his match fee.
Australia’s Cameron Bancroft admitted to using sticky tape to collect dirt and then use it as a sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. Tried to hide his act by hiding the object in his underpants but was caught on camera.
India accused England of unfair tactics during the 1977 Madras Test after the umpire saw a Vaseline laced strip used by pacer John Laver. India captain Bishan Bedi lodged a complaint and lab tests found Vaseline on the ball. No charges were made.
England captain Mike Atherton was fined for using dirt from the pitch to work on the ball during a Test against South Africa at Lord’s in 1994. However, he was not removed from captaincy nor was he suspended.
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