February 5, 2010

The rebel who could be king, and a rule whose time may be up

Why Afridi may be the captain Pakistan needs, and why the case against ball-tampering may not be as strong as some of us think
79

Shahid Afridi has always brought the essence of roulette to cricket. Not just the gambling variety but the rather more deadly Russian version. Predicting what Afridi is likely to do on a cricket field is like putting money on one of the 37 numbers on a roulette wheel and hoping you get it right. Off the field, though, he is more the oddball, likely to put the gun to his head and pull the trigger with one bullet in the clip. He has added greatly to the game but has self-destructed beyond imagination; a flash of genius one moment and a descent towards stupidity the next. Nobody else would do a pirouette on the pitch with spikes on. Hardly anyone would score a century off 45 balls opening the batting against a potent adversary. And certainly nobody would bite a dirty cricket ball and hope to camouflage the act by saying he was smelling it!

I am not sure which was the more daft act: actually biting the ball (and testing his immunity!) or saying he did so to win his side a match (having realised that the "smelling the ball" approach was a touch flawed). It couldn't have got worse for Pakistan, with the trademark boardroom squabbles at full pitch, a pathetic performance on the field, and the hysteria over the IPL auction. Their real problems actually figure in that order; they'd be in reverse if you go by the time spent in debate over them.

In spite of all this I believe Afridi might well be the right man to lead Pakistan in limited-overs cricket, for he is most likely to understand others like him. There is something about him that engages you, there is a little playfulness to him and he seems willing to take a gamble. He might just nudge the Pakistanis away from rebellion and towards victory. Some believe that he is at the heart of most rebellions - precisely the reason why he must be given a stint as a leader. In most parts of the world an offence as dramatic and disturbing as biting a ball to alter its condition would ensure you never became captain. But such is the diversity in our little sport that I suspect in another part of the world it may not even be remembered for too long.

I believe Afridi might well be the right man to lead Pakistan in limited-overs cricket, for he is most likely to understand others like him. There is something about him that engages you, there is a little playfulness to him and he seems willing to take a gamble

But at least one good has come out of it. We now have a nice debate on the whole issue of ball-tampering. Predictably bowlers, who have always played the role of the exploited, sometimes with good reason, are all in favour of fiddling a bit with the ball. Batsmen (and at least one wicketkeeper) are up in arms. The law doesn't allow it but maybe the time has come to question whether the law is indeed just. Cricket allows you to "maintain" the state of the ball but not to "alter" it. You can therefore rub the ball on your flannels to ensure the shine stays longer, but you cannot rub it on the ground, for example, to ensure it goes faster. But in either case you are altering the natural condition of the ball.

By maintaining the shine a bowler prevents the ball from deterioration. And yet the worsening of the ball, and the ensuing implications, are at the very heart of our game. Either action seeks to make the two halves of the ball unequal, so why should one be allowed and the other outlawed? Is it because one helps conventional swing and the other encourages reverse swing, which has always been looked upon as the naughty child in the family? Or, let's face it, is it because batsmen don't like reverse swing?

Having said that, I must admit I am not a fan of ball-tampering, but I do believe that if it went to a just court, those in favour would have a decent case.

Angus Fraser, always interesting to read, equates it to a batsman who knows he is out but stands his ground. Like ball-tampering, not walking has traditionally been looked down upon; unlike ball-tampering, it is now accepted. So, here's a thought for everyone. Can you make walking mandatory? Put it in the laws of the game? And make standing your ground attract a fine? Would that make people walk all over again? What fun that would be.

I don't know if Afridi would ever walk, but he certainly would find a hysterical reason for staying on!

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • straight6 on February 12, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Harsha you are back to your old tricks again! If today Zaheer Khan has become good then it's due to some hard work with Wasim Akram, or otherwise India have tried so many left armers and no one seems to fit the role. Oh and India attack is so poor that they are going to get thumped by South Africa!

  • sabina2009 on February 10, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    Why can't ICC come up to any concrete solution where players will never have any sort of a chance of ball tampering?? May be it is time to change the ball! May be ICC implement strict laws that may ban a player permanently for life time. Or ICC can even ban the entire team for just one payer who does the ball tempering!!!

    And as far as Afridi is concerned, all I can say is that Afridi is a true gifted player with God gifted natural talents. If Afridi had just concentrated on his batting a bit then he would have been a true world class player.

  • Doctor-Googly on February 10, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Sorry Mr. Toupee, rules are rules, however arbitrary. It is like making Bart Simpson the class monitor. While intriguing, it will implode eventually.

  • BoomBoomAdnan on February 7, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    Tampering is tampering it doesn't matter how u do it. There is no wrong way or the right way. just remember Tendulkar and Dravid were also banned and please use another word other than joker. This is the same joker who whopped indians in india and made fastest century ever.

  • Howie_CrowEater on February 7, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    Mr. Bhogle, the reason a player is not allowed to deteriorate the ball is because they could destroy it beyond recognition. If you allowed ball tampering, then where would you draw the line. Shining the ball is improving its condition, which is totally different. Very silly articles from Ramiz and Harsha. I can only imagine the tone of this article if Ricky Ponting bit the ball.

  • on February 7, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    Boomboom

    Tendulkar and Dravid did not bite the ball....like this joker. What was he thinking

  • Abhis_Lion on February 6, 2010, 22:47 GMT

    What a sad article by harsha...i didnt expect this from him... well i think he has got it wrong too..if we shine one side in the course of day the other side will get rough and thats the time we will get reverse swing...u dont need to rub it with hard surface and make the side rough illegally...yes its not allowed.and the legal reverse swing u ll always get later in the inning and the only reason is that one side is shined again n again while other is ignored... i dont know why Harsha went all out on harsha praising may be a futile attempt to calm paki nerves afte IPL fiasco...

  • Krishna_Sydney on February 6, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    To restore balance between bat and ball (become totally lop sided last 15 or 20 yrs, with better protective gear, shorter form of game, and various fielding restrictions) I think the ICC needs to put on their thinking caps and put their best brains together. Changing (removing) some fielding restrictions especially the one on the fielders behind square, is one sorely needed change. Apart from my earlier suggestions re. reducing the number of overs when the new ball is due (to 75 or 70) and giving the bowlers some say in the choice of a replaced ball (when out of shape), how about a different kind of ball for the second new ball ? One that, say, is manufactured with leather of a different quality/hardness on either side so that it can bring legitimate reverse swing challenges to a long boring and grinding innings (handling reverse swing) of the kind we have seen especially in the subcontinent ( 700 and runs ...!!). The middle order needs to be challenged!

  • BoomBoomAdnan on February 6, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    To all the Indians Tendulkar and Dravid have also been banned for tampering with the ball so give me a break dont act like you guys are so innocent.

  • crazyalip on February 6, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    I've been reading and noticing the post which people are putting under this article and whats the funny part is that most members keep saying that Afridi shouldn't be the captain BECAUSE he's irresponsible and make aggressive decisions? really?' If you give the name of irresponsibility to his top notch bowling skills and great reflex fielding then i agree he is irresponsible. And because of his irresponsibility we can't afford to play with out him in limited overs. And talking about leadership? That's what we want what he has. sharp, quick and risky decision making and willingness to do anything to win the team and not caring about of his own personal image though i strongly condemn his ball tempering but the point is he didn't care about himself.who does that today? Not like Yousuf to just make things go the way they go.(no offense. I highly respect him as a batsman). And i'm sure you guys noticed the difference in the first 4 ODI's and the last one. PEACE

  • straight6 on February 12, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Harsha you are back to your old tricks again! If today Zaheer Khan has become good then it's due to some hard work with Wasim Akram, or otherwise India have tried so many left armers and no one seems to fit the role. Oh and India attack is so poor that they are going to get thumped by South Africa!

  • sabina2009 on February 10, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    Why can't ICC come up to any concrete solution where players will never have any sort of a chance of ball tampering?? May be it is time to change the ball! May be ICC implement strict laws that may ban a player permanently for life time. Or ICC can even ban the entire team for just one payer who does the ball tempering!!!

    And as far as Afridi is concerned, all I can say is that Afridi is a true gifted player with God gifted natural talents. If Afridi had just concentrated on his batting a bit then he would have been a true world class player.

  • Doctor-Googly on February 10, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Sorry Mr. Toupee, rules are rules, however arbitrary. It is like making Bart Simpson the class monitor. While intriguing, it will implode eventually.

  • BoomBoomAdnan on February 7, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    Tampering is tampering it doesn't matter how u do it. There is no wrong way or the right way. just remember Tendulkar and Dravid were also banned and please use another word other than joker. This is the same joker who whopped indians in india and made fastest century ever.

  • Howie_CrowEater on February 7, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    Mr. Bhogle, the reason a player is not allowed to deteriorate the ball is because they could destroy it beyond recognition. If you allowed ball tampering, then where would you draw the line. Shining the ball is improving its condition, which is totally different. Very silly articles from Ramiz and Harsha. I can only imagine the tone of this article if Ricky Ponting bit the ball.

  • on February 7, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    Boomboom

    Tendulkar and Dravid did not bite the ball....like this joker. What was he thinking

  • Abhis_Lion on February 6, 2010, 22:47 GMT

    What a sad article by harsha...i didnt expect this from him... well i think he has got it wrong too..if we shine one side in the course of day the other side will get rough and thats the time we will get reverse swing...u dont need to rub it with hard surface and make the side rough illegally...yes its not allowed.and the legal reverse swing u ll always get later in the inning and the only reason is that one side is shined again n again while other is ignored... i dont know why Harsha went all out on harsha praising may be a futile attempt to calm paki nerves afte IPL fiasco...

  • Krishna_Sydney on February 6, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    To restore balance between bat and ball (become totally lop sided last 15 or 20 yrs, with better protective gear, shorter form of game, and various fielding restrictions) I think the ICC needs to put on their thinking caps and put their best brains together. Changing (removing) some fielding restrictions especially the one on the fielders behind square, is one sorely needed change. Apart from my earlier suggestions re. reducing the number of overs when the new ball is due (to 75 or 70) and giving the bowlers some say in the choice of a replaced ball (when out of shape), how about a different kind of ball for the second new ball ? One that, say, is manufactured with leather of a different quality/hardness on either side so that it can bring legitimate reverse swing challenges to a long boring and grinding innings (handling reverse swing) of the kind we have seen especially in the subcontinent ( 700 and runs ...!!). The middle order needs to be challenged!

  • BoomBoomAdnan on February 6, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    To all the Indians Tendulkar and Dravid have also been banned for tampering with the ball so give me a break dont act like you guys are so innocent.

  • crazyalip on February 6, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    I've been reading and noticing the post which people are putting under this article and whats the funny part is that most members keep saying that Afridi shouldn't be the captain BECAUSE he's irresponsible and make aggressive decisions? really?' If you give the name of irresponsibility to his top notch bowling skills and great reflex fielding then i agree he is irresponsible. And because of his irresponsibility we can't afford to play with out him in limited overs. And talking about leadership? That's what we want what he has. sharp, quick and risky decision making and willingness to do anything to win the team and not caring about of his own personal image though i strongly condemn his ball tempering but the point is he didn't care about himself.who does that today? Not like Yousuf to just make things go the way they go.(no offense. I highly respect him as a batsman). And i'm sure you guys noticed the difference in the first 4 ODI's and the last one. PEACE

  • on February 6, 2010, 19:45 GMT

    People once compared this joker with Sehwag....

  • AjaySridharan on February 6, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    "Wep 1" - you have almost done a poetic justice to the topic....very well written comment, much better argument and logic than Harsha's! Overall, reading the comments, I find such double standards in how readers react to articles on exactly the same topic written by two different columnists - Ramiz Raja's column on the same topic has attracted such vehement criticism while readers have been much more sympathetic to Harsha's column. A case of favoritism I suppose. I think Ramiz at least took a clear stance arguing in favor of ball "keeping" as he calls it. On the topic of Afridi being made the captain, Harsha of all people should know well that charisma alone shouldn't be the criteria of deciding on who leads and who doesn't...just a take a look at indian politics, and you will know why. While there can be better arguments in favor of Afridi being made the captain, Harsha has failed to put forth any other than merely saying he is an interesting character!

  • straight-from-blade on February 6, 2010, 16:18 GMT

    i don't think why harsha making afridi so good to lead a team,afridi is such a cricketer he is even uncertain of what he will do next moment how he can lead a nation,leading a country is not simple,u can'nt back on such player who is not sure of himself and the ball tampering act has tarnished his image,he is always controversial to watch,hope wht next comes frm him.....

  • Jarr30 on February 6, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    I do not agree with Harsha that Afridi is the right man to lead Pakistan. The problem with Pakistan is they seariosly lack quality and Afridi is another over-hyped average player who is only good for 20/20 version. This guy can't play more than 3 overs. And after the ball-tamerpring incident, what example can he set to his team mates.

  • Paddle_Sweep on February 6, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    This is a very disappointing article from an experienced commenator and public figure in India.Harsha,since you are from India ask yourself this question - 'Did Abhimanyu Mithun take around 47 wickets in his first season on placid Indian tracks by tampering with the ball?'

  • ww113 on February 6, 2010, 14:38 GMT

    Sadly,Harsha's point about Afridi putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger applies to Pakistan cricket in general.

  • Anneeq on February 6, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    The ICC need to sort this out, if rubbing the ball on your leg it legal then how come scraping it on the ground isnt? Isnt rubbing it on your leg changing the condition of the ball? Also batmen are always proding their bat on cracks over the pitch, and scraping their foot at the crease, is that not pitch tampering? During the England v Pakistan series in Pk Afridi (A BOWLER) was caught and banned for a few matches but when batsmen do it nobody cares. Im not saying legalise pitch and ball tampering, im just asking for a bit of sense and logic here. I mean if pitch tampering is bad, then why are batsmen allowed to do it? To what extent are bowlers allowed to ball tamper, because if you're allowed to rub the ball on your clothing, that is tampering. Heres my proposal, neither batsmen or bowlers should be allowed to interfere with the pitch, iv always disliked that, to me its cheating even though its not law. And the bowlers can only ball tamper by rubbing the ball on clothing and no more.

  • ww113 on February 6, 2010, 12:47 GMT

    Yes,it was daft.Afridi is not the captain Pakistan needs.

  • Shridhar_Malur on February 6, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    In typical Indian fashion Harsha has over reached himself and tried in his own way to assuage the hurt that the Pakistanis have felt over the IPL fiasco. ?Unfortunately, at with most such enterprises, the arguments are hollow and the tenor misguided. Shahid Afridi cheated blatantly and came up with the dumbest possible justification for it. Suggesting that such a player be entrusted with the captaincy is ludicrous, to say the least. There was nothing of the schoolboy outlook towards cricket in his behaviour. Extending the analogy, we would end up with electing mass murderers to the International Court of Justice. Harsha, I am a great fan of yours but this time around you've needlessly played a half-hearted defensive push to a bouncer which you would have done well to either hook or leave alone.

  • on February 6, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    I certainly do agree with him.Afridi is one of those personalities in the game who generate excitement no matter what he is doing.He has brought so much to cricket and especially Pakistan cricket.He has got this X factor about him which makes me believe he is the best choice for the post of skipper and as one cricket writer said "the greatest players are not always the ones with the most runs or wickets but the ones who make their presence felt through their attitude and the flair they bring to the game".I believe Afridi is of that breed.

  • on February 6, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    I totally agree with Harsha Bhogle.It is the guile of Afridi which brings so much to the game of cricket and with that i believe we should all accept that there will be slip ups here and there and as a cricket writer had said "the greatest players are not only the ones with the most runs or wickets but the ones who leave their presence through their character and the flair they bring to the game".

  • Wep1 on February 6, 2010, 6:31 GMT

    Two points. Firstly, the universal law of entropic decay means that it is much easier to roughen a ball than to keep it (or one side of it) in good condition. Shining the ball leads to a gradual difference between the two sides. If the players were allowed to roughen the ball, they would simply destroy one side the moment it suited them. It is difficult and ultimately impossible to maintain the state of the ball (or the pitch for that matter), but very easy to destroy it. Natural deterioration is a beautiful thing.

    Secondly, the problem with Afridi is not what he did, but that he sought an illegitimate advantage by doing it. Handling the ball is fine in basketball, condemned (goalkeeper aside) in soccer. The transgression is not absolute, but relative. You can't forgive a player by arguing that his actions OUGHT to be legitimate.

  • Paddle_Sweep on February 6, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    There is no way ball tampering should be allowed.What was Afridi talking about?They had plenty of support from the wicket and Aussies were struggling to chase the target.The Aussies did not do any ball tampering while they were defending a low score in the T20.Winning matches at the international level is hard and tough and you need application and dedication to achieve.There is no short cut to success.I hope this topic is no further discussed.

  • Sekhar_S on February 6, 2010, 2:11 GMT

    It is well known that Mohd Yousuf was not in favour of Shoaib Malik's captaincy and it took about 2 years and a Younus Khan to call a truce between the two.If you believe that Afridi has it in him to lead Pakistan in LOIs,it is interesting to see if he can rein in warring factions within the team.A recent media report exposed the unprofessional tactics of Shoaib Malik,Umar Akmal and Salman Butt in the recent ODI series in Australia and I too think Afridi can induce a sense of professionalism into the young talented team.

  • on February 6, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    I really don't understand, why people become really philosophical when they have to defend something which is not regarded as an appropriate thing. This is a dangerous path, and could lead to more inappropriate things to happen. Anyway, I like Harsha's writing. Rebel or non-rebel, it does not matter, good writing and providing an opinion from outside the square is not an easy task.

  • craigm_NZ on February 5, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    Surely it's time we accepted ball-tampering as part of the game, like backing up too far or overstepping the popping crease in the delivery stride. Its been part of the game forever, and I know when I played in the lower grades of club cricket it was accepted that the fielding side would at least try to pick the seam.

    Let the umpires award 5 penalty runs when they catch it, maybe change the ball, and stop handing out suspensions for something everybody tries to do (if not always in such drastic fashion). Lowering the heat on this offense may also mean that 50/50 calls like Broad's football effort are simply penalised and we all move on.

  • on February 5, 2010, 23:16 GMT

    excellent point. Afridi should be given a chance to lead but He needs to be little bit more sensible. his unbridled enthusiasm can hurt the team also.

  • Krishna_Sydney on February 5, 2010, 22:47 GMT

    Excellent, if contrarian, views Harsha! The laws of cricket the gear and the pitches have over the years changed progressively favouring the batsmen . High time something is done to restore the balance - not saying it should be ball biting or ball tampering, but... something ! I can sense the desperation amongst the bowlers with rather ordinary batsment making them look like dummies! How about some changes in the ball itself - where are the technologists ? or how about a ball change after say 75 or 70 overs instead of 80 ? Or giving the bowler a choice of 5 balls shortlisted (by the umpire) to make the final pick when it goes out of shape? C'mmon, some innovation is desperately needed !

    Krish

  • montys_muse on February 5, 2010, 20:43 GMT

    Nice article, Harsha. On the topic of ball tampering, I think that the changes in the laws of cricket (one-day and twenty20 cricket) was made to attract more crowds to the stadiums and to promotoe it globally. So, if ball tampering is made legal and bowlers start getting its advantages then the whole of essence of changing the rules (no-ball, free hits, leg side wides, shorter boundaries) would be diminished. Even if ball tampering is made legal, the question that remains in my mind would be upto what extent should the bowlers be allowed to tamper with the ball.

  • shrav66 on February 5, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    How about we allow batsmen to tamper with their bat, for example, have a spring loaded launcher in the center of the bat so they can get a six every time? The whole discussion of allowing ball tampering is ridiculous. The whiny bowlers should go develop, learn new techniques or perfect their art. Because batting improved over last decade, doesnt mean whiny bowlers get to cheat. Instead they take up the challenge and get better at what they do.

    Afridi should have been banned for good from cricket for such a blatant violation. Advise to the remaining bowlers is go learn and practice more... dont just stand there whining!!!!!

  • mardrol on February 5, 2010, 18:38 GMT

    Afridi is the best Pakistan have . The deserve him . People take some on-field acts too seriously . (this was rather strange though biting the ball) But however he has been penalised for it and that's that and the matter is settled . Pakistan have a bunch of talented players and all the people who are criticising them will be silenced by their perfomances in some time not far away . After all they have fared better than India last year in Major Competitions .

  • Jhammatian on February 5, 2010, 18:20 GMT

    In these situations, Pakistan team needs only one to be as captain and that is Shahid Afridi .bcz, Pakistan team has ultimate talent bt they lacking a good leadership and a fighter , so, I think he is the man to be captain and also he deserve it.

  • HOTCHA on February 5, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Every player has his demerits. Can't we just forget them, and get on with cricket? Azharuddin was a class act. When on song, which was more often that not - he batted like a GOD, and made a half decent captain. Afridi is amongst the most exciting cricketers in Pakistan, whether he is batting, bowling or even fielding. The most import facet of his personality is that he is respected, by all and sundry. For me, that is a good enough reason to elevate him to the status of skipper. Harsha Bhogle is someone who knows his cricket, and his analysis is spot on. Way to go, Harsha.

  • on February 5, 2010, 18:02 GMT

    Harsha, very nice article and thought provoking indeed!!! I feel that batsmen of today are having a cake walk with all the rules in their favor and bowlers are mere formality. Why not bring in bowling machines instead of wearing the human beings down. The time has come that the batsmen step up and face the reverse swing. I think once they start playing reverse swing on regular intervals, it will be easier for them to play it. But to be afraid of it and to make laws to stop it is killing the beauty of the game. The most beautiful bowl is the reverse swing, because it comes at pace and at the very last moment chnages its regular pathway. It is like if someone with magic wand instructed it to do so remotely. Cricket needs it, the decade of 2000 was very broing as compared to 80s and 90s because of the rules favoring the batsmen. The batsmen now have heavier bats, and the meat is all over the bat instead of a few sweet spots. Isnt that cheating???

  • Sportz_Freak on February 5, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    Are you kidding me? Please tell me you didnt compare "not walking" to ball tampering? As someone so elequently put it....you dont walk because you never know when you are going to get a howler that sends you on your way when you arent out. And if you allow biting...what's to prevent someone with metal teeth to gouge the ball or pull the seam out?

  • asadsiddiqui1 on February 5, 2010, 17:44 GMT

    One thing that i really appreciate about this article is that Harsha pointed out (righly so) that when shining the cricket ball is allowed then why not making it rough on the other side is allowed too?? I believe, shining the ball is more or less the same thing as altering the true state of the white cherry.

  • Paddle_Sweep on February 5, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    and please don't talk about legalising ball tampering.Pakistan were not able to win the last ODI when Aus needed 35 runs from 30 balls with 3 wickets and in the T20 they were not able to win again when they needed 29 runs in 36 balls with 6 wickets in hand.

    Afridi was just trying to cheat and ball tampering was just an excuse.

  • on February 5, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    I believe Afridi walk away wit lesser ban, he should have been banned for more matches.

  • on February 5, 2010, 16:48 GMT

    the writer's thoughts are not that clear, but anyways I like what he is 'trying' to say :P

  • on February 5, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    'If you are not cheating, you are not trying (enough)', I am for players cheating in games TO WIN. I don know whether Afridi was really cheating or maybe he may not be cheating and got caught simply doing something foolish and just being Pakistan's skipper. But what if he knew he would be caught and did cheat to make himself a rebel icon? The Afridi/Pakistan fans are not even understanding that and they get angry and are pointing fingers on other country's players, like Afridi's thoughts are all into how to make Pakistan win. If it was the case, he would not be taking the IPL issue seriously. Mind you, he cannot say anything abt him not being picked up in the IPL, directly. Money and attention are like drugs. Once you are addicted to it, it will make you do wonders... But if he did cheat, he is an idiot, but that is OK. Also there is no need for changing the captain (whoever he is) Practice the basics like catching and batting. You don need inspiration or any bullshit to hold a catch.

  • Paddle_Sweep on February 5, 2010, 16:09 GMT

    Trying to tamper a ball by putting it in his mouth is the stupidest way to tamper it.I would never have him as captain for this factor alone.

  • Lapogc on February 5, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    Well, IMHO, if 'spitting and shining' is allowed, the 'biting and roughening' too should be. The whole ball tampering issue in a batsman dominated game seems silly and smells of 'batsman-bigotry'.

  • henchart on February 5, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    Afridi is a champion batsman but only against mediocre bowling attacks including India.He has more often than not failed against SA and Aus.A good quickie can easily work him out.Jayasuriya is also a tiger against mediocre sides but lamb against good bowling sides.As far as Captaincy goes,making Afridi captain for a longer duration would be akin to ask Dravid and Laxman to open in T 20.

  • KNOWITALL on February 5, 2010, 15:34 GMT

    Harsha Bogle was the ghost writer for Azharuddin - the match fixer. How can you expect such a person to have morals? Afridi is a repeat offender, a cheat - he should have been banned for 20 matches. If Pakistan Cricket Board has any sense of honor they would strip him of the captaincy and probably ban him for life. Afridi's actions and the explanations to his actions are a disgrace to cricket.

  • on February 5, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    Not to stray too much from the topic at hand, but I keep asking myself this question. Why is it that stuart broad can get away with footballing and his consistent many other childish behaviors and other players don't stand a chance ?

  • Jazzz on February 5, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    Watch this video... regarding Afridi's act... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh1XfXkowtw

    To put it in as few words as possible, all Pakistan lacks is good governance/management... AT ALL LEVELS!!!!!!!!!

  • rohan024 on February 5, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    here we go again!! typical media hype..Use some superlatives like mercurial, dangerous and make an ordinary player look excellent...the problem is with characters like Afridi, media tends to count the few matches he has won & forget the matches Pakistan has lost just because of playing for crowd..call it madness, call it stupidity or call it lack of will to win, there is no difference when u need 10 runs of 20 balls and your last batsman get out going for a six...thats why Australia & SA remained on the top for so long because they never believed in players like Afridi...

  • on February 5, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    what afridi did was wrong but hes been punished for his crime, i wouldnt say its cheating as afridi said it, everyone does it, not everyone gets away like broad did. tendulkar said that everyone does ball tampering.

    the main cheating that happens in cricket, it happens in every game, wher players try to fool the umpire, like a footballer does by diving/handballing(least they get punished for it) but in cricket you get away with it, players trying to claim a catch that has hit the ground like the guy in under 19 game from pakistan and india match, other players appealing for lbw when theres been a big inside edge like watson did in the t20 game, other offences include appealing a catch that hasnt hit edge or glove and it goes on. this is what i call CHEATING and technically makes 99% of the players and all the cricket team CHEATS

  • zizou313 on February 5, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    Afridi , is currently the best man for the job and should guide Pakistan till the 2011 world cup. but more importantly pakistan needs a strong , experienced batsmen , who in my opinion currently is Mohammed Yousuf. wht ever the PCb plans they must keep yousuf in their batting middle order.

  • Tiptop32 on February 5, 2010, 13:59 GMT

    Harsha gone overboard with being taken the role of Devil's advocate. First he wrote "Future looks rosy for Bangladesh" who could not even win single ODI/T20 series or single Test match with any top 8 nations, let alone Test series. (BD fans dont come with WC 2007 win just because you have anything else before/after that). Now he defends ball tampering which even ardent fans of Afridi are feeling ashamed of his activity. If Afridi becomes Captain of Pak team then God save Pak team. Cricinfo readers deserve better stuff from Harsha.

  • on February 5, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    I think it would be the easy thing to do - buy into the romanticism of Shahid Afridi as Pakistan Captain. It would be a far braver decision to persist with Shoaib Malik, who looked so aggressive, yet self-assured in today's Twenty20.

  • Nerk on February 5, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    why not allow Afridi captain? The most flawed genius in world cricket captaining a side full of flawed genius! At least in the one day arena. One week the Pakis may score 50, the next 350, but it would be glorious, belligerent attacking cricket all the way. So he made a mistake, it was obvious to me atleast he was quite hungry. It's not the worst thing to happen to world cricket. Give him the captaincy, says I, and let us see the swashbuckling, inconsistant pakistan of old!

  • Puneet_may9 on February 5, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    I beg to differ with Harsha on the comparison of ball tampering and rubbing the ball on your pants. While the later is to maintain the Original shape and shine of the ball, the former is clearly altering the conditions to suit your need. Like Greg Chappel's underarm incident was a shame in cricketing history, this action of Afridi should also be looked on hte same way. And what good can a captain like Afridi bring to this young team when he could not even think sensibly in the pressure situation!! I would rather like the seniors to groom Umar Akmal as a future captain.

  • thestunner316_15 on February 5, 2010, 13:01 GMT

    i would still say afridi would make a decent captain.. more due to lack of options.. also look at what gayle has done to the windies team.. i believe both have a lot of things in common and would make good leaders..

  • on February 5, 2010, 12:56 GMT

    what afridi did was wrong but hes been punished for his crime, i wouldnt say its cheating as afridi said it, everyone does it, not everyone gets away like broad did. tendulkar said that everyone does ball tampering.

    the main cheating that happens in cricket, it happens in every game, wher players try to fool the umpire, like a footballer does by diving/handballing(least they get punished for it) but in cricket you get away with it, players trying to claim a catch that has hit the ground like the guy in under 19 game from pakistan and india match, other players appealing for lbw when theres been a big inside edge like watson did in the t20 game, other offences include appealing a catch that hasnt hit edge or glove and it goes on. this is what i call CHEATING and technically makes 99% of the players and all the cricket team CHEATS

  • D.V.C. on February 5, 2010, 12:44 GMT

    Thankyou for raising the issue of what is fair with ball tampering without condoning Afridi's actions. What is universally true is that what is in the rules is fair during the game, what is against the rules is unfair (This is why I'm so flabberghasted that the umpires didn't do what they were supposed to according to the Laws of the game and hand out 5 penalty runs -- it's not optional for this offence in the Laws). However, outside the game, we should be able to freely discuss whether a change of rules is fair, practical and appropriate, without condoneing cheating. You raised the issue approriately, thanks agian for your article.

  • Srinino1 on February 5, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    I dont agree with Harsha on this one. Afridi has been the gifted cricketer who performs once in a while but creates a ruckus everytime. His frequent transgressions show a mind out of control and not sophisticated enough. A captain has to be thoughtful, strategic and with good people leadership. I just cant see any of this in Afridi

  • gnat9 on February 5, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    The Pakistanis will do well to cut down on agression and attitude a little bit. They throw tantrums when nobody hires them for the IPL. They should have known that it is an Indian domestic tournament with privately owned teams, none of whom has any obligation towards Pakistan or its players. Then they show utter lack of sportsmanship in Australia and indulge in cheap tactics like ball biting to crown their miserable performance. The Pakistanis are behaving like a bunch of spoiled, genY brats who think they are the best. A good spanking on the backside is what they really deserve.

  • Zaheerahmed on February 5, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    I know cricinfo applying its policy of not annoying Indians by not printing my comments but I would still write.

    S Mahuta & even Harsha has conveniently forgotton that Afridi is not the first cricketer to be penalised for ball tampering. Though his act was stupid and unethical but so was applying lozenges on ball by Dravid and picking the seam by Tendulkar. They should also be damned as much as Afridi has been done.

  • Retour on February 5, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    I laughed when I read the not walking was compared to ball tempering. There are so many occasions where a batsmen is not out but is giving out. For example a bad LBW decision, a bad caught behind, etc. If you are talking about walking then you shouldn't be appealing when you think the batsman is not out. Not walking is accepted because the decision rests with umpire whether the batsman or bowler is right. And over a course of time, it is said things even out!

    In short: Not walking can be compared to false appealing including claiming bumps). Ball tempering is a different issue.

    Coming back to ball tempering, the laws are not clearly defined and are the same from what I understand) whether the offense is minor, technical or a major one. It is understood that when we are talking about ball tempering, we are talking about major ones. Before talking about ball tempering, one needs to first differentiate the major ones

  • Smahuta on February 5, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    Cheating is in ones nature, either you will try or you wont. Afridi has no qualms about cheating, all he is sorry for, is that he got caught. No excuses in my opinion for this type of behaviour. He got off lightly and that has made a mockery of fair play. No doubt he will be back in a couple of games time and will be thinking of how he can get away with such actions next time. Should make for an interesting tour to england this year. Battle of the ball tamperers: Broad, Anderson or Afridi? Who will come out on top?

  • on February 5, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    Unfortunate 2 see a talent like Afridi going down the drain,he can be a good leader but hw on earth can he motivate and guide his juniors with an average of 23 in ODIs,dat is pathetic,he has an avg of abt 17.7 in domestic T20s,wit 15-16 yrs of playing ODIs he has 5531 odd runs,Dhoni has 4000runs in 5yrs, Gilchrist has 9900odd runs in 10-12yrs,Afridi never learnt as a batsman in his entire lifetym,he never wil,da only reason for him being in da team is dat he has been bowling wel lalety,dat is da truth. He is being considered as a captain beacuse dere is no one beter den him to lead da side,Shoaib Malik was nt bad,cud hav ben givn a little more tyme,Yousuf is a disastr,Yunus is in da wildernes. Regarding ball tampering,not evn God knws wat was Afridi thinkin,he cheatd no doubt,his claim of smelin da bal n dat everyone tampers da bal shows no regret of his deed,hw can one lead da team who himself has been banned for 2 matches?,howevr Afridi wil do sumthn lyk dis again,dis is hw he is.

  • Fawad2010 on February 5, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Harsha, I agree with you, one big reason is that if not afridi then who should be the captain? younus? yousaf? malik? or kamran akmal? I am talking about the 20/20 and odi's of course. I support afridi, just because he was esperate to win! That attitude from Pakistan is always welcome, maybe not to such extent but still welcomed.

  • Tapsy on February 5, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    I tend to disagree with Harsha with Afridi being captain.You want the leader to be the person to whom the team will look upto when the team is down to come out fighting(in right spirits and not biting).Afridi is a case of COULD HAVE BEEN case..Consistency has been his enemy all the time and I guess it will be very difficult for him to handle the team. Specially if he can't handle defeat.Pakistan team is in very difficult situation.There is noone whom I can see to be permanent in the One day side.Afridi would have been thrown out of other side had he been playing as inconsistent like he is doing now. He is nothing more then a spin-bowler now and a Good one.But that's not the Afridi we want to see.We want to see BOOM-BOOM and by playing to gallery all the time he has lost his place.Kamran Akmal cud have been Captain but the way he dropping catch, he better keep his position first. Shoaib Mallick, noone likes.Others not sure of place in the team. So ideally, its Umar Akmal or Salman Butt

  • wanderer1 on February 5, 2010, 9:39 GMT

    As per usual when Pakistan is involved there are thousands of vultures just waiting for the moment to dig their knives in. Afridi cheated, no one denies that, but so too have England been involved in their fair share of ball tampering over the years, and no big song or dance is made of it. They're just mischievous English boys. Plenty of other teams have attitude problems within their ranks. Fact is Ball tampering happens all over the world, just like pitch scuffing, (if you honestly think the players from your favourite team don't try to deliberately scuff the pitch up, you're naive). Only difference is Afridi gets caught because he doesn't disguise it enough, and the vultures with a holier than thou attitude raise their heads, as if cheating had never existed before Pakistani players partook in it.

  • Subra on February 5, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Dear Harsha Why is it that when the Pakistanis were 'reverse swinging' they must have tampered with the condition of the ball, while when the English are doing it, it has become a 'fine art' - nothing sinister. There are two sets of rules, when Broad steps on the ball it is O.K. but Harbahajan better not do it. It is the double standards that make one sick. Anything is O.K. if certain people do it - but the South Asians just make sure that they are squeaky clean. Siva from Singapore

  • WahSachinWah on February 5, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    Com'on Harsha,you cannot equate walking to ball tampering,wrong comparison.Afridi is very aggressive and wants his side to win at any cost,match winner and leads from front at times plus does big 3 aspects of the game decently well.Excellent component in a champion side but main ingredient for captaincy would be 'SMART'.He was dumb to bite the ball in front of 100,000 cameras,he was right everybody tampers with the ball but not many are STUPID enough to do that in front of the camera like that!!His stupidity could cause PAK some games if he is CAPTAIN.Sachin was given the 1-match ban in SA if I remember correctly but the evidence was hardly confirming,here Afridi just lost it. Altering the condition of the ball would happen if the batsmen were hitting to all parts of the ground but that is cricket,this was SADLY NOT CRICKET!!

  • jeet19800 on February 5, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    Harsha prolly mean to say, We need to have our Heros ....bad or good or ugly, doesn't really matter.

  • solomonlaw on February 5, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    Ridiculous argument. Afridi cheated but yes we all feel sorry for him because seriously, who would want to captain the pakistan cricket team. Maybe this was an attempt at Hari-Kari. Regardless of his intentions he was cheating and should be punished accordingly.

  • robin.ctg on February 5, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    harsha's points are good..but every one plz remember we are human TO ERR IS HUMAN we all have to remember it .nobody in the world is perfect..so as afridi...every great player have controversies in their career...so why afridi's case is special.. i think he is a great player ...and he should captain pakistan in both T20 and ONE DAY INT..if we analyze the performance of pakistan team in past two or three years we will see afridi is the best player for pakistan..and in last series he perform great he scored close to 150 runs and took 7 wickets how anyone can deny this facts...he is a great player for pakistan he must be given captaincy...

  • Bam_Newlands on February 5, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Are you trying to hide the fact that he is a cheat by saying he could be captain and that he is willing to take chances?? He should in actual fact be banned for a few years and not a few games. He cheated to win a game!!!!! Thats black on white right there. No excuses... He cheated so he could win. Shame on you for writing this article.

  • Muns_Martin on February 5, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    I m really disappointed with the things happening with Afridi.He is a genuine leader.I love the way he leads his side,but this ball-tampering issue is very disappointing.I dont know why he did it,coz there were many cameras around the field and he knew it.Then how he did this?I guess he just did it subconsciously.Though this incidence is unacceptable,I think he should be forgiven for the last time.coz he is the perfect man to lead Pakistan RIGHT NOW.

  • anurag23bhide on February 5, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    I do realize the point you are trying to make here in saying Afridi might make an ideal captain for pakistan. he certainly has the persona required to galvanize a bunch of mavericks that is the Pak cricket team and get them to perform to their potential consistently. also we must realize that it is only in pakistan that he could be a good captain; anyone who gets on the wrong side of the law anywhere else in the world might not even be retained in the side. however the flip side of the equation would be more and more pakistan players might be found breaking rules even more frequently, with the captain the leader of the bratpack!!

  • sreehk on February 5, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    While the situation in Pakistan has been nail biting, it is no wonder that their on field one is ball biting. It wholely sums up the state of Pakistan cricket. It is true that cricket is missing the Pakistan of 90's and Pakistan is missing their captains of 80's. The fact that inspite of his histrionics Afridi is a prefered captain goes on to say how desperate are we. I agree that the game needs a roulette essence in Afridi but I do not for the idea that he be made captain. Do you mean Pakistanis gamble further? They need a more settled individual or who promises to be so for the good of the Pak-cricket and more so for the game. Cricket has now boiled down to 3 of atmost 4 dominants now. Where are the other four? The mighty west indies, the unpredictable Pakis, the inventors Brits, the adventurous Kiwis. It is more than a century now and still neither England nor New Zealand has won a world cup and and it is as if WI and Pak are retired from cricket. What good is ICC doing for criket?

  • Podicheti on February 5, 2010, 7:30 GMT

    I don't understand. I am a big fan of yours, but this time I have to say Harsha, you lost it. Whatever might be the flair that he carries or the kind of playfulness one can associate with him or even the ability of understand his team mates, he doesn't deserve to play cricket, forget about leading Pakistan, for he tried to cheat the game itself. Ball tampering is an offense comparable next to match fixing and such cases should be handled in the right way so that it sends the right message outside. Trying to keep one side of the ball shiny to attain reverse swing is one thing. Biting a ball blatantly is something only a mad dog would do and you can not consider such behavior as captaincy material for a national side. I am very sure, Pakistan cricket hasn't yet reached such pitiful situation that there can be no better captain than Afridi.

  • Dinker-cktlover on February 5, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    All this talk and love for Afridi will be suicidal for Pakistan cricket.At present he may seem aggressive,motivating and what not BUT all that is only to add weightage to his captaincy claims.remember that he is a key member of the group which deliberately lost the NZ series and thereby made yunus khan quit captaincy.Yunus may not be good in politics or may be even emotionally vulnerable but hs Imran's candidate fo captaincy and the best thing to do is build a team with youngsters with yunus at the helm.Afridi is not even test standard(neither is Shoaib Malik) and he is not going to do any good for pakistan cicket in the long run.

  • AminZ on February 5, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    Harsha presents some interesting arguments in favor of Afridi. I myself wanted Afridi to be Pakistan captain in all 3 forms of the sport (not just T20 and 1-days) but this ball tampering issue really left me thinking. Harsha does make some interesting points but we expect a captain to be more fair to the game and if not fair then at least be smart enough to hide his unfairness. Afridi failed on both accounts, so it would really be a tough call for Afridi to become an overall captain of the squad.

  • PienkZuit on February 5, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    Seriously? Did you just equate cheating by biting the ball with a not walking until the umpire gives a decision? Are you serious? The elephant in the room is: why are Pakistani players caught up in ball tampering so regularly?

  • mohsan123 on February 5, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    i am a greate fan of afridi and he was almost appointed the captian of pak side and he deserve before biting the ball but after the incident he loses much respect u dont suppose to do such an action that were disgracefull for u and country. i think pak need such an agressive captian but attitude must not be like this.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • mohsan123 on February 5, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    i am a greate fan of afridi and he was almost appointed the captian of pak side and he deserve before biting the ball but after the incident he loses much respect u dont suppose to do such an action that were disgracefull for u and country. i think pak need such an agressive captian but attitude must not be like this.

  • PienkZuit on February 5, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    Seriously? Did you just equate cheating by biting the ball with a not walking until the umpire gives a decision? Are you serious? The elephant in the room is: why are Pakistani players caught up in ball tampering so regularly?

  • AminZ on February 5, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    Harsha presents some interesting arguments in favor of Afridi. I myself wanted Afridi to be Pakistan captain in all 3 forms of the sport (not just T20 and 1-days) but this ball tampering issue really left me thinking. Harsha does make some interesting points but we expect a captain to be more fair to the game and if not fair then at least be smart enough to hide his unfairness. Afridi failed on both accounts, so it would really be a tough call for Afridi to become an overall captain of the squad.

  • Dinker-cktlover on February 5, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    All this talk and love for Afridi will be suicidal for Pakistan cricket.At present he may seem aggressive,motivating and what not BUT all that is only to add weightage to his captaincy claims.remember that he is a key member of the group which deliberately lost the NZ series and thereby made yunus khan quit captaincy.Yunus may not be good in politics or may be even emotionally vulnerable but hs Imran's candidate fo captaincy and the best thing to do is build a team with youngsters with yunus at the helm.Afridi is not even test standard(neither is Shoaib Malik) and he is not going to do any good for pakistan cicket in the long run.

  • Podicheti on February 5, 2010, 7:30 GMT

    I don't understand. I am a big fan of yours, but this time I have to say Harsha, you lost it. Whatever might be the flair that he carries or the kind of playfulness one can associate with him or even the ability of understand his team mates, he doesn't deserve to play cricket, forget about leading Pakistan, for he tried to cheat the game itself. Ball tampering is an offense comparable next to match fixing and such cases should be handled in the right way so that it sends the right message outside. Trying to keep one side of the ball shiny to attain reverse swing is one thing. Biting a ball blatantly is something only a mad dog would do and you can not consider such behavior as captaincy material for a national side. I am very sure, Pakistan cricket hasn't yet reached such pitiful situation that there can be no better captain than Afridi.

  • sreehk on February 5, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    While the situation in Pakistan has been nail biting, it is no wonder that their on field one is ball biting. It wholely sums up the state of Pakistan cricket. It is true that cricket is missing the Pakistan of 90's and Pakistan is missing their captains of 80's. The fact that inspite of his histrionics Afridi is a prefered captain goes on to say how desperate are we. I agree that the game needs a roulette essence in Afridi but I do not for the idea that he be made captain. Do you mean Pakistanis gamble further? They need a more settled individual or who promises to be so for the good of the Pak-cricket and more so for the game. Cricket has now boiled down to 3 of atmost 4 dominants now. Where are the other four? The mighty west indies, the unpredictable Pakis, the inventors Brits, the adventurous Kiwis. It is more than a century now and still neither England nor New Zealand has won a world cup and and it is as if WI and Pak are retired from cricket. What good is ICC doing for criket?

  • anurag23bhide on February 5, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    I do realize the point you are trying to make here in saying Afridi might make an ideal captain for pakistan. he certainly has the persona required to galvanize a bunch of mavericks that is the Pak cricket team and get them to perform to their potential consistently. also we must realize that it is only in pakistan that he could be a good captain; anyone who gets on the wrong side of the law anywhere else in the world might not even be retained in the side. however the flip side of the equation would be more and more pakistan players might be found breaking rules even more frequently, with the captain the leader of the bratpack!!

  • Muns_Martin on February 5, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    I m really disappointed with the things happening with Afridi.He is a genuine leader.I love the way he leads his side,but this ball-tampering issue is very disappointing.I dont know why he did it,coz there were many cameras around the field and he knew it.Then how he did this?I guess he just did it subconsciously.Though this incidence is unacceptable,I think he should be forgiven for the last time.coz he is the perfect man to lead Pakistan RIGHT NOW.

  • Bam_Newlands on February 5, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Are you trying to hide the fact that he is a cheat by saying he could be captain and that he is willing to take chances?? He should in actual fact be banned for a few years and not a few games. He cheated to win a game!!!!! Thats black on white right there. No excuses... He cheated so he could win. Shame on you for writing this article.

  • robin.ctg on February 5, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    harsha's points are good..but every one plz remember we are human TO ERR IS HUMAN we all have to remember it .nobody in the world is perfect..so as afridi...every great player have controversies in their career...so why afridi's case is special.. i think he is a great player ...and he should captain pakistan in both T20 and ONE DAY INT..if we analyze the performance of pakistan team in past two or three years we will see afridi is the best player for pakistan..and in last series he perform great he scored close to 150 runs and took 7 wickets how anyone can deny this facts...he is a great player for pakistan he must be given captaincy...