ICC news June 29, 2013

Umpires given power to curb ball tampering

ESPNcricinfo staff

Umpires have been empowered by the ICC to take action on ball tampering even if they only have suspicion that the condition of the ball has been changed and have no eye witness evidence.

The decision, taken by the ICC Board at their annual conference in London, comes in the wake of controversy in the Champions Trophy when England faced allegations of ball tampering.

The former England captain, Bob Willis, had said that umpire Aleem Dar was 'on England's case' and 'that one individual is scratching the ball for England' when the ball was changed during their tie against Sri Lanka at The Oval.

The ICC has now formally asserted that umpires are free to act on any unproven suspicions of ball tampering. They have approved a two-step on-field process, including penalising the fielding team on the second offence and reporting the fielding captain. The rule will come into effect on October 1.

According to the new regulation, if the umpire believes the condition of the ball has been "changed" but there is no witness to identify which player was behind it, the umpire will replace the ball and issue a first and final warning to the fielding captain.

If umpires suspects a second offence, they can award a five-run penalty to the batting team, replace the ball again and report the fielding captain under the ICC code of conduct.

England gained substantially more reverse-swing in their opening match against Australia and have responded to veiled expressions of suspicion by countering that the skill of their bowlers and superior ball management is at the heart of their success.

But the umpires - Aleem Dar and Billy Bowden - changed the ball during their second match against Sri Lanka. England's captain Alastair Cook was visibly agitated by the change of ball, which he felt contributed unfairly to England's defeat.

The official word from the ICC at the time was that the ball was changed because it was misshapen.

Although no ICC official or member confirmed if that incident was discussed at the meeting, it is understood that it did play a part in the rule change.

While the five-run penalty for ball tampering is not new, the process for the on-field umpires to follow is a new development. It was mooted by the ICC's cricket committee and chief executives committee, and ratified by the ICC Board.

It is understood the main reason behind making amendments were to remove the "grey areas" within Law 42.3, which deals with the condition of the ball.

Currently, umpires - if they feel that the condition of the ball has changed beyond the permitted allowance - can inform the fielding captain that they are replacing the ball in addition to awarding five penalty runs.

Umpires, though, have been wary to take such an action for fear of potential consequences.

The ICC Board sanctioned two other changes to the playing conditions as well, also to be implemented from October 1. Firstly, the on-field umpire will be able to ask the television umpire to check if a delivery that claims a wicket is a no-ball on height, if he has doubts.

And zing wickets - the stumps and bails that have LED lights that flash when they are struck - will come into use in ODI and Twenty20 cricket.

These stumps were used in Australia's Big Bash League T20 tournament, and the ICC had commissioned an independent assessment of the technology before adopting it.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dinesh on July 4, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    I think if the empower umpire as such, ICC must go for one ball for entire match rather than two balls for each ends. then it will make the room to bowling side to achieve some reverse swing at the end of the bowling inning. most of all reverse swing a special skill that must be kept within cricket, it should not curtailed or diminished by cricket laws (ridiculous). reverse swing added special edge to cricket and value to older ball. as the level of international cricket played ICC must empower the bawlers by laws to provide balanced contest between bat and ball rather than one-way traffic.

  • Robert on July 1, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    bobmartin - correct about the lighty-up wickets; a bail could be slightly shifted then settle back into its groove; by 'zingometry' it would be out, by the laws of cricket, not. The game has gone technology mad. 'The Umpire's decision shall be considered Final' - whatever happened to that? For better or for worse, that's how cricket developed and how it should stay.

  • VENKATACHALAM on July 1, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    Also, please give the umpires with enough powers to go for their own "Umpire's Reviews" when they are in doubt about a decision.

  • Dummy4 on June 30, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    @ Sam Vinogar. They don't make it very clear, but they are talking specifically about beamers not bouncers. Anythng other than the slowest of bowlers bowling a ball that reaches the batter at above (ABOVE) waist height without bouncing has been a no ball for years. It's just saying that will now be checked.

  • Dummy4 on June 30, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    One bad decision by ICC for not going with UDRS

  • Bryan on June 30, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Kalputra - I think that you are letting your paranoia and bias get in the way of the facts.

  • Jason on June 30, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    @Vamsi Mohan Kavuri VM, that will be practically impossible, interms of pitches due to different types of Soil, grass, weather conditions, and amount of preparation and the groundsman, pitches will also change during a game in different conditions.

    In the end 'uniform' pitches will simply take out the thrill of test cricket and at that point the game will die.

  • Jason on June 30, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    My biggest fear from the above article is this statement "if they feel that the condition of the ball has changed beyond the permitted allowance"

    Each pitch will see the ball change differently, it will also depend on the team, some teams bowlers when starting a spell will bowl the ball in to the ground, some will bowl cross seam early on to get the lacquer off, in the sub-con, the ball condition will change at a different rate to the UK, or Aus. How a team maintains the ball and works it. to get the shine on a particular will be different.

    I'm not eveing going to go in to the differences in materials, some may be weaker, or tougher, an extra layer or two of lacquer, for example, you can buy 2 identical pairs leather shoes, 1 pair will wear differently to the other pair.

  • Bob on June 30, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    So.. picture this... an ODI is down to the final couple of overs and Team A require just 5 runs to win... The umpires, having carried out the first warning/ball change procedure, then suspect more ball tampering and award 5 penalty runs to team A and the match is then declared over with Team A winning.. Subsequent investigations reveal no proof of illegal tampering. Law 21.10 does not permit the result to be changed...What then ?