Ball-tampering is an open secret - Greig
Shahid Afridi's 'biting the ball' incident during the fifth ODI between Australia and Pakistan in Perth may have raised a furore and led to a two-match ban but former England captain Tony Greig believes ball-tampering has been prevalent over the years.
"Some may choose to deny it but most bowlers have technically indulged in ball-tampering," Greig told Cricinfo's Time Out show. "Ball-tampering is one of cricket's most open secrets and it has been for at least 50 years."
In the most recent incident, Afridi was caught by TV cameras apparently biting the ball on a couple of occasions during the last ODI against Australia. This was reported by the TV umpire to the on-field umpires who, after a chat with Afridi, changed the ball. At a hearing with the match referee Ranjan Madugalle immediately after the game, Afridi pleaded guilty to the charge, apologised and regretted his action but was banned for two Twenty20 internationals.
Afridi later said the practice was common in cricket, a sentiment echoed by Greig. "It is common knowledge that bottle tops and sand paper in particular have been used in the past to change the surface of the ball in an effort to create reverse swing," Greig said. "New Zealand's Adam Parore openly admits that New Zealand, in retribution for what they thought Pakistan had been doing, went to work on the ball with a bottle top in a Test in 1990 in Faisalabad. Parore said Chris Pringle was the major beneficiary in so much as he took 11 wickets in the match.
"Saliva and sweat are permitted as shining agents but what about the mints and gum those alter the make up of saliva? What about sunscreens and lip balm which mixes with sweat and so it goes on."
Greig also sought a rewrite of the current laws regarding ball-tampering as they threw little light. "Most of the better cricket administrators have been former players and they know that its been happening," said Greig. "But their attitude has been to write the laws as strictly as possible knowing full well that short of submitting all balls for forensics testing there is little chance of doing anything other than what is being done at the moment."
Ian Chappell, the former Australia captain, said everything possible should be done to encourage swing. "Rub the laws and start again," Chappell said. "If bowlers feel that the contest is even then I don't think you will get so much of the illegal actions and the ball tampering. They should sit down with all the captains, and say - write down the list of all the things that make ball swing.
"We will then go through the list and then pick out - 6, 7, 8 …pick a number. Then we present the list to all the captains, and we ask them to pick one out of that lot, and make it legal and the rest is illegal. And if you are caught doing any of those - big trouble, you will be handed a suspension.
"You've got to keep swing bowling in the game. Because swing bowling and leg spin bowling are the two aspects of the game that you must do everything to encourage, they are both attacking forms of bowling."