Pakistan October 5, 2011

The Ball-Tampering Club and other tales

Who cares what bowlers put on balls as long as they don't eat 'em
18

Sunday, 2nd October What’s the first rule of Ball-Tampering Club? Don’t talk about Ball-Tampering Club.

In his candid interview on the subject, Umar Gul happened to mention the names of a couple of English players and with a weary inevitably, silliness ensued. Journalists had to pretend that this was controversial, England’s middle captain Alastair Cook, had to pretend to be offended. and then Umar had to pretend that he hadn’t said what he’d said.

But isn’t it time we all stopped clutching our handbags and reaching for the smelling salts every time someone mentions ball-tampering? We’ve coped with players on drugs, slappings on the field of play, routine verbal abuse, various kinds of corruption and Shane Warne’s new hairstyle. Are we really that shocked by the idea of a bowler altering the condition of the ball?

Anyway, I’m with Shoaib on this one. Let’s legalise it. Bowlers need all the help they can get these days, and it’s not as if we’re talking about putting razor blades in the seam or replacing it with an exploding Edam cheese. Let them do what they like with the leathery thing. Although we should probably still draw the line at eating it.

Monday, 3rd October Daniel Vettori today denied that he was captaining a one-man team. That is true. Technically, there are 11 players in red, they all make a contribution and thanks to their efforts, the Chris Gayle XI are still in with a chance of making the semi-finals.

The man himself was toying with Somerset today. Early on, he was pottering along at a paltry run-a-ball, with all the vigour of an elderly man doing a bit of light weeding. And then he started to bat. He doesn’t move much, just enough to do the job, like one of those street performers who pretend to be a statue before scaring the living daylights out of passers-by. A half step, a vague swat and there goes the ball again.

Somerset are still in it, but experienced Somerset watchers are not going to fall for it this time. Their fans will not be emerging from behind their sofas until the last post-match cliché of congratulation has passed Ravi’s lips and Peter Trego’s cap smells like the inside of a champagne bottle.

Tuesday, 4th October Cricket and technology have been living together for a few months now, but to be honest, the relationship is in trouble. Having rushed into things, we’re a bit disillusioned since it turns out technology can be unreliable, doesn’t always do what it said it would, and is frankly rather insensitive to our needs.

Aleem Dar today said that we need more consistency from one series to the next. This is true. I’m sure the players must struggle to remember which gadgets are plugged in at any given time; after all, some of them have difficulty remembering the lbw law or that accepting money from random strangers is wrong.

But there’s another problem. A lot of the DRS bloopers are caused by humans. We’ve got the technology; we just don’t know how to use it. So one obvious solution is to remove humans from the process entirely. I’m picturing Terminator-style umpiring devices, able to officiate for hours at a time without forgetting the rules, nodding off during Ishant‘s run-up or worrying about getting their panama wet.

And for entertainment value, they could be programmed with familiar voices. The default setting would be Mr Spock:

“The ball pitched outside leg stump, Mr Ajmal and therefore your appeal is illogical.”

And I’m thinking a Dalek mode for those moments when things get a little heated in the middle:

“Mr Broad! Comply with the Spirit of Cricket or you will be exterminated!”

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naila on November 6, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    Haha, loved that last line! An entertaining read. Just how awesome would it be if the last entry actually happened?

  • kinkminos on October 9, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    i agree with you on both counts:

    - pitch standardisation is just another example of the silliness that characterises so many of the icc's proclamations. different countries will have different playing conditions. that's one of the things that adds to the enjoyment of the game.

    - what the goofballcouncil (aka icc) should standardise is drs/technology usage, so that players and spectators and viewers know what can and can't be reviewed. personally i'm not in favour of drs. call me anachronistic, but one of the charms of cricket is its "glorious uncertainty" which imho includes the possibility that the correct decision was not forthcoming from the umpire.

  • Faridoom on October 6, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    Hilarious stuff dude. Daleks on the field would be so cool. Somerset fans hiding behind their sofas, LOL with a capital LOL!

  • M Abdullah on October 5, 2011, 20:42 GMT

    "Let them do what they like with the leathery thing. Although we should probably still draw the line at eating it.".............. nice lines............ very will written

  • aly on October 5, 2011, 20:26 GMT

    lol the ball pitched outside off is the most retarded rule I mean who cares as long as the ball is hitting the wickets, it should be out O_o

  • Mohammad Khan Avik on October 5, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    Superb as usual! HAHAHAHA...

    "The ball pitched outside leg stump, Mr Ajmal and therefore your appeal is illogical." quote of the year..

  • Andrew'sNewBest Friend on October 5, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    Almost staying on topic:-

    .......and for that reason Mr Peter Moores, your FIRED!

    .......Mr Butt, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

  • Anonymous on October 5, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    Lol, nice read, loved the bit on gayle XI, 'He doesn’t move much, just enough to do the job, like one of those street performers who pretend to be a statue before scaring the living daylights out of passers-by' hilarious !

  • Sai on October 5, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Careful Mr.Hughes. You may offend the ball-eaters or ball-eaters' fans. Other than that I thought it was a pretty good article :)

  • riz on October 5, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    "...the players must struggle to remember which gadgets are plugged in at any given time" Who was that Indian batsman who wanted a review after he was given LBW in the series in England?

  • Naila on November 6, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    Haha, loved that last line! An entertaining read. Just how awesome would it be if the last entry actually happened?

  • kinkminos on October 9, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    i agree with you on both counts:

    - pitch standardisation is just another example of the silliness that characterises so many of the icc's proclamations. different countries will have different playing conditions. that's one of the things that adds to the enjoyment of the game.

    - what the goofballcouncil (aka icc) should standardise is drs/technology usage, so that players and spectators and viewers know what can and can't be reviewed. personally i'm not in favour of drs. call me anachronistic, but one of the charms of cricket is its "glorious uncertainty" which imho includes the possibility that the correct decision was not forthcoming from the umpire.

  • Faridoom on October 6, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    Hilarious stuff dude. Daleks on the field would be so cool. Somerset fans hiding behind their sofas, LOL with a capital LOL!

  • M Abdullah on October 5, 2011, 20:42 GMT

    "Let them do what they like with the leathery thing. Although we should probably still draw the line at eating it.".............. nice lines............ very will written

  • aly on October 5, 2011, 20:26 GMT

    lol the ball pitched outside off is the most retarded rule I mean who cares as long as the ball is hitting the wickets, it should be out O_o

  • Mohammad Khan Avik on October 5, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    Superb as usual! HAHAHAHA...

    "The ball pitched outside leg stump, Mr Ajmal and therefore your appeal is illogical." quote of the year..

  • Andrew'sNewBest Friend on October 5, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    Almost staying on topic:-

    .......and for that reason Mr Peter Moores, your FIRED!

    .......Mr Butt, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

  • Anonymous on October 5, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    Lol, nice read, loved the bit on gayle XI, 'He doesn’t move much, just enough to do the job, like one of those street performers who pretend to be a statue before scaring the living daylights out of passers-by' hilarious !

  • Sai on October 5, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Careful Mr.Hughes. You may offend the ball-eaters or ball-eaters' fans. Other than that I thought it was a pretty good article :)

  • riz on October 5, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    "...the players must struggle to remember which gadgets are plugged in at any given time" Who was that Indian batsman who wanted a review after he was given LBW in the series in England?

  • RaviGutala on October 5, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    Hilarious as usual! So, even terminators cannot help but nod off during Ishant's run-up!!

  • zeeshan on October 5, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    i agree.ball tempering should be allowed

  • Suresh Haridas on October 5, 2011, 9:20 GMT

    Very Nice Andrew! That made good and light hearted reading !

  • bob on October 5, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    silly silly news

  • Dan on October 5, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    I dont know...at least using your teeth is a natural form of ball tampering (so long as you havent had dentists put in extra titanium fillings)...I say as long as you're using a natural part of your body to do the tampering it should all be allowed

  • Sagir Parkar on October 5, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    nice article Andrew... i agree with you that the current problem with DRS is due to the human element involved and the ridiculous application of technology..

    loved the idea of having T-800s on the field speaking in the voice of Mr Spock !!! ingeniously brilliant !

  • criclover on October 5, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    hahahaahah, excellent article.

  • Eliya Abbas on October 5, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    Although we should probably still draw the line at eating it. *of course unless you're Afridi :P

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  • Eliya Abbas on October 5, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    Although we should probably still draw the line at eating it. *of course unless you're Afridi :P

  • criclover on October 5, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    hahahaahah, excellent article.

  • Sagir Parkar on October 5, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    nice article Andrew... i agree with you that the current problem with DRS is due to the human element involved and the ridiculous application of technology..

    loved the idea of having T-800s on the field speaking in the voice of Mr Spock !!! ingeniously brilliant !

  • Dan on October 5, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    I dont know...at least using your teeth is a natural form of ball tampering (so long as you havent had dentists put in extra titanium fillings)...I say as long as you're using a natural part of your body to do the tampering it should all be allowed

  • bob on October 5, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    silly silly news

  • Suresh Haridas on October 5, 2011, 9:20 GMT

    Very Nice Andrew! That made good and light hearted reading !

  • zeeshan on October 5, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    i agree.ball tempering should be allowed

  • RaviGutala on October 5, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    Hilarious as usual! So, even terminators cannot help but nod off during Ishant's run-up!!

  • riz on October 5, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    "...the players must struggle to remember which gadgets are plugged in at any given time" Who was that Indian batsman who wanted a review after he was given LBW in the series in England?

  • Sai on October 5, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Careful Mr.Hughes. You may offend the ball-eaters or ball-eaters' fans. Other than that I thought it was a pretty good article :)