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What is ball-tampering in cricket?

What is ball-tampering in cricket?

What is ball-tampering in cricket?

What is ball-tampering in cricket?

Ball-Tampering means altering the conditions of the ball, making it aid to swing bowling. This is an illegal act committed by a bowler or mutually planned by a team to interfere with the ball’s aerodynamics.

Law for ball-tampering:

Law 41: This is the law for covering unfair plays. It has been extended and developed over time as we witness more illegal acts committed during a cricket match.

It states that a ball may be polished without using any artificial object, maybe dried with a towel, maybe freed from the mud under official supervision. Still, the actions that change the condition of the ball are illegal.

A player might scuff with a fingernail, rubbing on the ground, using a sharp object to alter, or tampering the ball’s seam.

Purpose of ball-tampering:

Its general purpose is to make the bowling conditions more favorable for the team to win the contest. The bowl, when altered, might be tough for a batsman to face.

A few examples might be using sweetened saliva, lip balm, or any other substance to shine one side of the ball grasping seam and favoring swing.

Also, roughening a side of the ball is counted as tampering. It might include abrasive or cutting surface (sandpaper, bottle caps, boot spikes, etc.)

Can altering be legal?

Using sweat is common. We see many bowlers rubbing a bowl on their clothes to shine the surface. They also apply saliva as these basic committing are not counted among altering.

The substances that are used are hair gel, sugar of sweets, or lip balm. It is critical for an umpire to evaluate if tampering is done in case of saliva is mixed with these substances.

As mentioned, saliva alone is allowed as it not counted in tampering but it should not be mixed with other substances to enhance the swing.


The on-field umpires are responsible for checking the conditions of the ball. They are obliged to keep an eye on and off if anyone cheats. If an umpire suspects a bowler of tampering or if it gets proved, five runs penalty is rewarded to another team.

If the other captain desires, the ball might be changed too. In this case, an umpire is supposed to pick a new ball that should be matching the conditions of the previous (tampered) ball as much as possible.

Also, if the bowler is found guilty, he might be suspended from that respective inning and will no longer be bowling. The captain may be fined if he is found involved in the case.

Top ball-tampering scandals:

Due to the Television coverage, many such scandals are on-screened. Some undetected tampering might be common. Here is the list of top-notched ball-tampering scandals.

Chris Pringle, 1990:

New Zealand tour of Pakistan 1990 brought Chris Pringle to the limelight after he was involved in a tampering scandal. He used a concealed bottle cap to rough one side of the ball and was suspected in Faislabad.

Later, he accepted the crime along with his involvement after both New Zealanders got retired from cricket. It was said that Pakistan also were indulged in a scandal but it was not proved.

Michael Atherton, 1994:

England’s captain, Michael Atherton brough one of the top ball-tampering scandal as he was accused of the ‘dirt in the pockets’ scandal. During a test match versus South Africa in 1994 at Lord’s Atherton’s pocket composed of dirt that he was rubbing to alter the conditions of the ball.

He later revealed that he was using the dirt to dry his hands and not to tamper with the ball. Atherton was fined £2,000 as he was summoned to the match referee.

Waqar Younis, 2000:

Waqar Younis became the first Pakistani player to involve in the ball-tampering scandal. The incident happened in July 2000 when Pakistan were playing Test matches against South Africa. He also became the first player to end with a suspension. Here is the video:

Sachin Tendulkar, 2001:

During the India tour of South Africa in 2001, Tendulkar was alleged for altering the ball conditions at St. Georges’s park. The match referee suspended him for one match as a consequence but he denied the allegations and termed it as false.

The photographs suggested that Sachin scuffed the bowl. He claimed that he was just removing a piece of grass stuck to the ball. The incident was later termed as ‘racism’ by the referee’s end to Tendulkar. After the Indian public backlashed, Tendulkar was cleared off the accuses.

Rahul Dravid, 2004:

India’s Dravid rubbed a cough lozenge on the ball’s shiny surface. The incident happened during the Australia tri-series against Zimbabwe at The Gabba.

India, however, won the match was Rahul Dravid was fined 50% of his match fees.

England Cricket, 2005:

Marcus Trescothick accepted the altering scene in his autobiography “Coming Back to me”.

He used mints to shine the ball picking up more swing as he admitted three years later after the Ashes 2005 ended. Aus vs Eng Ashes 2005 terminated in England’s favor.

Pakistan Cricket, 2006:

Back in 2006, a Test match between England and Pakistan was overshadowed as team Pakistan was alleged to tampering with the ball. After the men in green were penalized in the afternoon for altering the ball conditions, the match referee rewarded a five-run penalty to England. The game normally continued till Tea but later, Pakistan denied to return to the field and the game was awarded to England consequently.

Umpires Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair made a controversial ruling that Pakistan are alleged of such charges. As per the rules, the ball was replaced and the new ball was chosen by Paul Collingwood.

After the tea break, Pakistan did not arrive on the field as they decided among themselves declaring that no tampering has taken place. The umpires left the field giving severe warning to the men in green to return to the field in 15 minutes.

As they did not do so, the umpires waited for two more minutes and terminated with removing the bails granting the match results as “England won, and Pakistan denied to play”. This win was known as forfeiture.

That came became the first test ending that way. However, team Pakistan returned to the field after 55 mins but the referees denied to begin the play. Inzamam ul Haq later claimed that no replacement for the balls was informed to them.

The match result was officially announced in a conference organized by ECB as they said the match results have been decided as per ICC rules and cannot be altered.

Pakistan, however, demanded a few years later to alter the game result to draw, abandoned rather than forfeiture. They demanded as they were cleared of the charges by the ICC tribunal.

The global council altered the game result to match drawn in 2008 but many ECB players and authorities made moves against it. Later, in October 2008 the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) released a statement saying ICC has no such powers to term the results inappropriate

Also, Michael Holding added that he had written a letter to resign from ICC because he could not bear whatever happened. Michael Holding added Pakistan should be happy for the consequences turning out as a result of what they have done.

In 2009, the results were once again were written in England’s favor. Here is the video:

James Anderson, Stuart Broad, 2010:

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were blamed as they stopped the ball with their boots’ spikes. The incident got the limelight during the third test match against South Africa.

Broad said that he was just being lazy whereas his former mentor, Nasser Hussain added that everyone would have termed it as ‘cheating’ if the incident could have been spotted by any other team player.

However, there were no applicable charges by South Africa Cricket despite their allegations in a press conference. Here is the video:

Shahid Afridi, 2010:

Shahid Afridi was standing as a captain in a T20I match against Australia in 2010. He made a bizarre attempt as he bit the ball to maintain the seam and unfortunately, got caught on camera. As a result, Afridi was banned for two matches.

He told the sources that he was just smelling the ball but pleaded guilty. He was also banned earlier in 2005 for interfering with the pitch conditions against England.

Here is the video:

Aus vs SL, 2012:

In the first Test match 2012, Australia and Sri Lanka locked horns with each other. SL accused Australian bowler Peter Siddle of the tampering scandal and informed the referee, Chris Broad. However, he was later cleared of the charges.

Du Plessis, 2013:

Fielding during the third day of the second test match, Faf Du Plessis was caught on camera scuffing the bowl to his trouser’s zip. A five-run penalty was added to Pakistan’s score.

Later, Graeme Smith and AB De Villiers claimed that they are not the cheaters and the series were tainted as leveled by the end.

During the same match, Vernon Philander, a medium-pacer of SA was accused of the charges. He was noted scratching the ball with his forefinger but under the rechecking, Philander was cleared with no terms of ball-tampering. Here is the video:

SA vs SL, 2014:

South Africa were involved in the tampering scandal twice in the month. Playing against Sri Lanka at that time, Vernon Philander was involved in a scandal breaching the ICC code of conduct as he scratched the ball with his finger and thumb. The board deducted 75% of his match fees.

SA vs Aus, 2016:

Another Proteas was involved in the incident. Du Plessis came up with another incident as he was spotted on the screen applying mixed saliva with a mint or lolly. He was fined his match fee later. Notably, Australia Cricket imposed no such charges on SA.

Aus vs SA, 2018:

Australian player, Cameron Bancroft was fined with the charges as a consequence of tampering. In the video footage, he was spotted concealing the ball with a yellow object during day three of the third test against South Africa.

CA confirmed that it was sandpaper as the bowler committed the crime. Also, Steve Smith, the captain of the team stepped down from captaincy because of the case.

Later, Tim Paine was declared as the captain but Warner and Smith continued to play as the captain. Later, Smith, Warner, and Bancroft were charged for their actions. The committee announced a nine-month ban for the bowler but Smith and Warner were banned for twelve months. Watch the complete video:

SL vs WI, 2018:

The tampering was spotted on day-two but the ball was replaced by an umpire on the morning of the Day 3. Sri Lanka’s captain, Dinesh Chandimal were charged as he got banned for one game.

Afg vs WI, 2019:

During the Afg vs WI ODI in 2019, Nicholas Pooran was found guilty and was cut off from the next four T20I matches. He is the recent bowler who found himself guilty ahead of his actions. Notably, there have been more than a hundred tampering incidents but our aim was to share the top ten. Here is the video of Nicholas Pooran and how Rashid Khan, a leggie from AFG reacted:

Also, see:

How Does ICC World Test Championship Works?




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