“Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.”

  • -Spirit of Cricket: Preamble to the Laws

What is ball tampering?

Ball tampering is an act by the fielder to interfere with the aerodynamics of the ball. Acts of tampering may include the use of foreign substances like hair gel, lip balm etc., to polish the ball. Apart from this, picking at the threads of the main seam or ‘lifting’ the quarter seam to aid conventional and reverse swing respectively are included.

According to ICC STANDARD TEST MATCH PLAYING CONDITIONS, as mentioned under Article 42.3 provides for the act of ball tampering and the sanctions involved :

Law 42.3 – The Match Ball – changing its condition Law 42.3 shall apply, subject to the following:

Law 42.3 (d) and (e) shall be replaced with the following:

If the umpires together agree that the deterioration of the ball is inconsistent with the use it has received, they shall consider that there has been a contravention of this Law. They shall then decide together whether they can identify the player(s) responsible for such conduct.

42.3.1 If it is possible to identify the player(s) responsible:

a) Change the ball forthwith. The batsman at the wicket shall choose the replacement ball from a selection of six other balls of various degrees of usage (including a new ball) and of the same brand as the ball in use prior to the contravention. Additionally the bowler’s end umpire shall:

b) Award 5 penalty runs to the batting side.

c) Inform the captain of the fielding side of the reason for the action taken.

d) Inform the captain of the batting side as soon as practicable of what has occurred.

e) Together with the other umpire report the incident to the ICC Match Referee who shall take action as is appropriate against the player(s) responsible for the conduct under the ICC Code of Conduct.

42.3.2 If it is not possible to identify the player(s) responsible:

a) Change the ball forthwith. The umpires shall choose the replacement ball for one of similar wear and of the same brand as the ball in use prior to the contravention.

b) The bowler’s end umpire shall issue the captain with a first and final warning, and

c) Advise him that should there be any further incident by that team during the remainder of the match or series, steps 42.3.1 a) to e) above will be adopted, with the captain deemed under e) to be the player responsible.

Some cases of ball tampering :

  • England captain Michael Atherton was accused of ball tampering during a Test match with South Africa at Lord’s in 1994 after television cameras caught him reaching into his pocket and then rubbing a substance on the ball. He was fined £2,000 for failing to disclose the dirt to the match referee.
  • In the second Test match of India’s 2001 tour of South Africa , match referee Mike Denness suspended Sachin Tendulkar for one game in light of alleged ball tampering. The incident was alledged to include allegations of racism, and led to the bar on Mike Denness from entering the venue of the third test match. The ICC revoked the status of the match as a Test as the teams rejected the appointed referee. ICC later cleared Tendulkar of ball tampering charges.
  • In the year 2006, in a Test match between Pakistan and England, whereby Pakistan refused to take to the field for the evening session after being penalised for ball-tampering in the afternoon.
  • Shahid Afridi received a two T20 international match ban for ball-tampering in a match against Australia in January 2010. He was caught biting the ball.
  • South Africa were penalised five runs for ball-tampering on the third day of the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai in October, 2013.

References :

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