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.