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10 Famous Ball Tampering Incidents That Rocked the Cricketing World

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10 Famous Ball Tampering Incidents That Rocked the Cricketing World

Well, the dust has finally settled on the recent ball tampering scandal involving the Australian trio of former captain Steven Smith, his deputy David Warner and young opener Cameron Bancroft. It was a watershed moment in the history of the game and the biggest cricket controversy since the match fixing allegations that broke out at the dawn of the millennium and tore the game’s reputation apart. But this wasn’t the first incident of ball tampering and most likely won’t be the last either. So here we take a look at 10 ball tampering incidents that have rocked the cricketing world over the years.

1. John Lever’s day out with Vaseline

This is often seen as the first documented incident of ball tampering, where English fast bowler John Lever was accused of rubbing Vaseline over the surface of the ball during the 1977 test match against the Indians at Madras (now Chennai). The modus operandi was quite unique as he is said to have worn Vaseline laced gauze above his eyes to control sweat and was constantly rubbing the ball in that unusual area! But there were no codes to charge him in that era and escaped scot free!

2. Wasim, Waqar and 1992 Test Series versus England

While there were no bans, no fines and no official charges, but Pakistan’s Test series win over England in English soil remains one of the most controversial chapters in the history of ball tampering allegations. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis picked up 43 wickets between them in the five test series and repeatedly turned the tide in matches with a few overs of unplayable reverse swing. The English media and cricket experts were up in arms against the duo and missed no opportunity to accuse them of ball tampering. This led Akram to allege this to be a case of racism and British colonial hangover.

3. New Zealand and the bottle cap

This was a bizarre incident where New Zealand fast bowler Chris Pringle used the sharp edge of a split bottle top right under the nose of the umpire to alter the condition of the ball in a Test Match at Faisalabad during the 1990 tour of Pakistan. Surprisingly, no charges were brought against Pringle, as he picked up 11 wickets (but didn’t end up on the winning side in a low scoring game). It took almost two decades for then-wicketkeeper Adam Parore to admit the incident.

4. Waqar Younis’s misadventure in Sri Lanka

The Pakistanis have always been the bad boys of the cricketing world when it comes to ball tampering allegations. Whenever they sent down those toe-crushing, reverse-swinging yorkers, they were alleged to have altered the condition of the ball. Inevitable, it was a Pakistani who became the first ever cricketer to be charged for ball tampering. Waqar Younis earned this crown of thorns back in 2000 in an ODI game against the South Africans in Sri Lanka during the tri-series. He was fined 50% of his match fee and banned for one match.

5. Broad, Anderson and the lazy affair

Allegations of ball tampering were labelled against England fast bowling duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad during a test match against the South Africans at Cape Town in 2010. Broad was caught putting his spikes over the ball while Anderson was seen picking something from the seam area. Both players rejected allegations of trying to alter the condition of the ball, with Stuart Broad terming his act as a ‘lazy’ move. There were no charges slapped on the duo.

6. Sachin Tendulkar’s working the seam affair

The second test of India’s 2001 tour to South Africa at Port Elizabeth witnessed one of the most talked about incidents of ball tampering. It might have been just another incident, but it involved none other than India’s demi-God and the poster boy of modern day cricket Sachin Tendulkar. Match referee Mike Denneess charged Tendulkar for ball tampering and banned him for a game after he was caught on camera working with the seam of the ball. Denneess went a step further and charged four other players for excessive appealing and Captain Sourav Ganguly on the flimsy grounds of not being able to control his players. Daggers were drawn between the Indian and South African boards on one side and ICC on the other with the former threatening to pull out of the tour if Denness wasn’t removed. ICC didn’t relent and the third test was played as an unofficial game between the two sides. Subsequently Tendulkar was given a clean sheet by the ICC.

7. Rahul Dravid and the lozenge incident

Rahul Dravid, then vice-captain of the Indian team, was fined 50% of his match fee after he had been caught on tape rubbing a lozenge on the ball during an ODI at Brisbane against the Zimbabwean side during the 2004 VB Series. While the Indians declared this an innocent mistake on part of Dravid, match referee Clive Lloyd was convinced it was a deliberate attempt to alter the condition of the ball and pressed the charge against Dravid.

8. Imran Khan’s use of a bottle top

One of the original exponents of the reverse swing, Imran Khan was on multiple occasions thought to have tampered with the ball. In fact, he is one of the rare cricketers who doesn’t even look at it as cheating and has admitted in his biography to doing it! This particular match wasn’t an international fixture and rather a country game in 1981, where appearing for Sussex, Khan admitted to having used a bottle top to tamper the ball to get the desired swing. It is one of the rare admissions where the player boasted about trying to modify the ball.

9. Shahid Afridi’s Bitegate

If there was ever a contest for the most bizarre ball tampering scandal this one involving Pakistan’s flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi would surely rank among the top. In today’s world of televised cricket, Afridi (who was captaining the side) was caught biting the ball during the last ODI of the 5 match series at Perth in 2010. He was subsequently banned for the next two T20s of the series for trying to alter the condition of the ball. What was surprising, though, was his reaction to the ban – he said that he was just trying to help his bowlers and that every team in the world tampers the ball.

10. Faf du Plessis’ zipper incident

In a test match against the Pakistanis in Dubai in 2013 South African batsman Faf du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering and was let off with a 50% fine on his match fees. Du Plessis was caught slyly rubbing the ball against the zipper on his trousers. David Boon, the Match Referee, immediately charged him for the incident and the South African pleaded guilty.


Image Credits: Charaka, Nic Redhead, Hash Milhan

One Comment


    You haven’t included the incident with Mike Atherton when he had gravel/dirt in his trouser pocket, trying to alter the condition of the ball.

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