Ball tampering: England must try harder

We really hope that England weren’t tampering with the ball last week, because if they were, they’re rubbish at it.

Our stance on ball tampering is that players should do whatever they can get away with. To us, that’s the divide: if you’re caught, you’ve crossed the line.

There’s a similar situation in rugby, where someone like Richie McCaw regularly acquires the ball from within a melee of people when you would expect his opponents to still be in possession. He may achieve this solely through fair means, but it seems unlikely. Part of McCaw’s skill is in adapting the way he plays to each match situation. He makes allowances for who is refereeing and what can be seen at any particular moment.

We see ball tampering in the same way. Everyone knows why players are such avid fans of confectionery. Sun cream and lip balm have more than one use. Getting the ball into the right condition without being hauled in front of the match referee is a skill.

But it’s only the first step. Whatever a player does to the condition of the ball, they’ve still got to use it. First you get the ball right, then you have to swing it, then you have to direct it. Achieve all that and have a bit of luck as well and you might get an edge. Even if it’s caught, the batsman won’t walk.

Now that’s cheating.

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20 Appeals

  1. Col. Fernham-Smyth (rtd)

    January 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    If we are to allow this caddery then the punishment for being caught should be made worse. In my day a light thrashing was the punishment for ball-tampering, running your teammate out and not washing the whites when it was your mother’s turn. A heavy thrashing will suffice.

  2. Gus Fraser was explaining the frustration of it all on the radio today. He said it wasn’t uncommon to spend several careful hours “preparing” the ball (by legal means, of course), only for Devon Malcolm to ruin it all by spitting on the wrong side. Even cheating requires a team effort, it seems.

  3. KC the cheating from the batting team only gets worse in the lower grades here as they provide the umpire. The single most astonishing explanation I have recieved for turning down an LBW that pitched on off and struck the back leg halfway up the shin on middle and off was “who knows where that was going?”. I could have taken a pretty good guess…

    Bowlers need all the help they can get. Clearly, Mr Broad was just cleaning away some of the mud that had accumulated on the seam. Since it was such a mundane task and with the high modern over rates enforced it probably just slipped his mind that the umpire is meant to supervise such actions.

    Personally I’ve found polishing one side of the ball, and drenching the other in sweat not only leads to the rapid disintegration of the ‘bad’ side but it also creates a bit of ‘wobble’ and inconsistent bounce. If you happen to sweat heavily and some of the liniment you’ve applied washes down onto the ball that’s hardly your fault now is it?

  4. King Cricket

    January 10, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    You can hardly help that.

    And if you wipe excess lip balm on your trousers at the exact spot where you shine the ball, you can’t be held responsible for any subsequent swing that you may inadvertently create.

  5. If something is so easy to hide that it’s impossible to regulate it shouldn’t be regulated. It’s like drugs; legalise everything and nobody will break any laws.

  6. I’m disappointed that no-one went ahead with that brand of cricket trousers with specially designed patches on the thighs – one for shining the ball, one for roughing it up.

  7. Pat, your suggestion would lead to some interesting activities. I’d like to see Jimmy Anderson winding elecrical tape all round one side of the ball. If you do it to a tennis ball it swings like a bastard.

  8. one of my few good moments playing cricket (with a tennis ball) was when, while bowling to a guy who always smashed me around, I found that the ball was torn on one side and would move a little if bowled properly. So I bowled a nice, easy paced delivery ouside offstump, with the torn bit facing the offside, and as the guy prepares to whack it it starts to curve in a bit. He has a massive swing at it, ball keeps curving, smacks into the top of off – which was a brick – and knocks it off. Absolutely beautiful. Swing is one of the best things ever.

  9. Well bowled E.

    I agree – solve all the world’s crime problems by abolishing laws. No laws to break, no lawbreakers. Think of the savings in lawyers, courts, prisons etc etc.

  10. Whooooah there, Charlton! Anarchy might be all very fine in sixth-form common room discussions, but just imagine the actual real-world consequences before you spout such naive claptrap. Think, man! There’d be nothing to stop there being three or more fielders behind square on the leg side. I bet you didn’t think of that, did you? Where would society be then, eh?

  11. I don’t really get South Africa’s attitude to the whole thing.

    “We saw you do it and we think it’s very naughty. And we are going to moan about it. But we won’t be reporting it.”

  12. Point taken. Laws are there for a reason. I knew there was a flaw in this idea.

  13. Liked your article on Wisden and Cricinfo KC. Very subtly done.

    “Paul Harris and sandwiches”…that one will fly straight over Mickey’s simple brain.

  14. King Cricket

    January 11, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Did you notice that the Cricinfo one says that Paul Harris, Nathan Hauritz and everyone are fictional at the bottom?

    That was an unexpected revelation.

  15. Anarchy?

    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

  16. Yes I did. Did you add that or did Cricinfo put that in? If it was you, then I am grateful to you for opening my eyes to the truth.

  17. Thank you D Charlton, and I agree, anarchy is the way forward.

  18. disagree with your Cricinfo piece, I think batsmen are being far too defensive against nothing-bowlers like Hauritz. The guy needs to be put in his place.

  19. Let’s shorten the pitch by a couple of yards. I’m tired of them whiny fuckers that call themselves batsment. Not fit to carry Viv-Richard’s condoms, let alone shoes.

  20. > Not fit to carry Viv-Richard’s condoms, let alone shoes.

    From what I’ve heard, there’s not much difference.

    Fnirk.

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