February 11, 2010

The hows and whys of ball-tampering

Just about every cricketer has tried to alter the condition of the ball; the batsman-friendly nature of the game is to blame
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The recent ball-biting incident, perhaps the most bizarre instance of ball-tampering, has created quite a furore in international cricket. It was extremely silly of Shahid Afridi to believe he could get away with an outlandish act like that, considering the number of cameras covering the game. He was caught red-handed and slapped with a two-match ban, which some think is a rap on the knuckles for someone with a bit of a history. Remember how he danced on the pitch during a break in the Faisalabad Test against England in 2005?

So what is it that incites a bowler to meddle with the ball? Certainly not just a flash of unscrupulousness. Even men of character like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid have been reprimanded for ball-tampering.

Cricket, right from its inception, has by and large been a batsman's game. To add to the bowler's woes, rules have been mended down the years to further the interests of batsmen. Bats have become better, grounds smaller and tracks flatter. Right from discouraging Bodyline bowling (by not allowing more than two fielders between the square-leg umpire and the wicketkeeper), limiting the number of bouncers, increasing fielding restrictions from 15 to 20 overs (which includes a batting Powerplay as well), changing the ball after the 34th over, cricket has been overwhelmingly batsman-friendly.

Some might argue all this has actually increased their market value, because good bowlers are worth their weight in gold now. The recent IPL auctions seemed to bear that out: Shane Bond, Wayne Parnell and Kemar Roach went for big money. Be that as it may, these days quality bowling doesn't always translate into performance on the field, thanks to the way the odds are stacked heavily against bowlers, especially in the shorter formats; most bowlers, regardless of talent, go for plenty. Taking a beating in the park may not be denting their bank accounts but it definitely is bruising their ego and self-respect.

I remember being introduced to ball-tampering during my debut first-class season, over a decade ago. Our bowlers were getting alarming movement in the air and off the surface. The ball was rather new (and a new SG ball doesn't move that much), the track was a typical Kotla track (a batting beauty) and it was the third morning (so no day-one moisture).

I wasn't playing the game but sitting on the sidelines admiring the quality of bowling on display. When I went in to field as a substitute I realised that our bowlers had tinkered with the ball. One side was still shiny, and even had the manufacturer's stamp, while the other side was completely scuffed up. Of course they had worked on it beyond imagination, using bottle caps or something equally sharp. I was surprised on two counts: that the umpires didn't notice the manipulation despite wickets falling at regular intervals (considering umpires get the ball at the fall of every wicket), and that the batting side remained unfazed and didn't complain. In those days, though, umpires didn't have so much power or at least they didn't exercise it as much.

Since then I have realised that ball-tampering does not happen randomly. It is more often than not part of the game plan. Some do it discreetly, while the rest, like Afridi, are either brave or foolish enough to do it blatantly.

Some say it is a craft and I have seen a few craftsmen at work in my time. The use of nails, especially thumbnails, comes in handy. One cricketer used to do it so subtly that you wouldn't know even if you were standing next to him while he did so. We even challenged him to do it while talking to the umpire once, and he pulled it off, like a pro.

I have realised that ball-tampering does not happen randomly. It is more often than not part of the game plan

Most teams and bowlers around the world lift the seam. It can be done so subtly that umpires and cameras will never catch the offender.

Then there are ways known only to a few people. A legend from a neighbouring country once said that it takes only a few overs to make the ball reverse-swing. He wouldn't tell us the tricks of the trade but didn't deny that he was an able practitioner of the craft.

I don't know of teams who aren't aware of the effectiveness of sugar-laden saliva. Rahul Dravid was reprimanded because he accidentally dropped a half-eaten sweet on the ball, but most players do so intentionally.

There was a case of Vaseline coming to the rescue in a domestic game. A few years ago there was a batch of SG Test balls that wouldn't shine regardless of the work you put in. Even mints were ineffective, so Vaseline became the last resort. It worked, but only just.

There are other, absolutely legitimate, ways of scuffing up the ball. Instead of bowling seam-up, fast bowlers can bowl cross-seam. While you can never be completely sure of landing the ball on the surface that's already scuffed up, this method is effective at the beginning, when you're deciding which side to shine. Throwing the ball one-bounce in from the outfield is another way of ensuring that the scuffed-up surface gets abraded more when it hits the ground. And unlike while bowling, you can ensure that it lands on the rough side every time.

It's basic human nature to look for ways to survive. I'm in no way making an effort to defend ball-tampering, merely drawing attention towards its causes. Since this game is at its best when the competition between the bat and ball is fair, we must ensure that it's attained without resorting to unfair practice.

For starters, you need to prepare tracks that have something in them for the bowlers. Then mend a few rules to make bowlers feel that their role is a bit more than just feeding balls to be hit. For example, in ODIs, fast bowlers used to bank on the ball getting old and producing reverse-swing towards the end of an innings. That opportunity has been taken away from them now that the ball gets changed after the 34th over. Why can't we do away with the mandatory ball changes?

One could also allow three fielders outside the circle in the first Powerplay, and be slightly lenient when it comes to wides, especially leg-side ones. Only balls that can't be hit should be adjudged wides, unlike at present where anything down the leg side is a wide. A no-ball is followed by a free-hit. When batsmen don't get penalised for mistiming a shot or getting beaten, why are we so severe on bowlers for overstepping the crease or for a slight error in line? Give bowlers some room for error, and perhaps allow them to use mints to shine the ball (which, in any case, most teams are already doing). Yet, at the same time, have sterner penalties for tampering the ball using teeth, bottle caps, spikes or non-permissible objects.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season. His website is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Himayun on | February 14, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    The article is fine and dandy. Most drivers speed on the highways but Pakistanis showed the finger to the cops! Being a Pakistani American I feel disgusted by Pakistani captain's behavior. There is a culture in Pakistan that the high and mighty do not follow the laws. The higher they are the more "free" they are to do whatever they want.

    Most of the Pakistanis are behind Shahid Afridi's actions and he would definitely be rewarded with the captaincy. Afridi would and should have been banned for life after his multiple acts of disgrace. We are not talking about a kid but a cold calculate, hardened habitual abuser of the laws.

  • POSTED BY SheeeraZ on | February 13, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    I knw how to do reverse swing when i was 10...in pakistan the first thing being learned about bowling is how to bowl a reverse swinger....the art is simple..shine the ball from one side n let the other side suffed up....this is the only way u can swing ball on cemented pitches...we were never been told how to bowl an out swinger coz it never swings on cemented pitches...now its quite easy to understand that if the pitch is not assisting u must need the conditions around you to work for u n with lush green out feilds around the world these days not even the conditions are helpfull for balls more over the 34 over mendatory ball change and the power plays have realy swing the game in batsmen's favour.....u need more balance between bat and ball or else the bowling will become a less desired thing to do for young kids.

  • POSTED BY Smithie on | February 13, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Interesting how the crucifying of Daryl Hair for upholding the laws of cricket on ball tampering is conveniently ignored in all the furore since Afidi's dental disintegration incident. Funny how Sth Africa, NZ, West Indies and Australia are never mentioned in ball tampering dispatches only the Pommes and the Sub Continentals. Is playing by the rules really THAT difficult? However it is perhaps understandable to bend them in an attempt to rebalance the talent gap in both cricketing and pitch preparing skills!

  • POSTED BY The_Wog on | February 13, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    As usual when a subcontinental player is caught ball tampering we tut-tut and then justify the action and call for the Laws to be changed. I don't recall seeing the media scrum saying "Change the silly rule" when Atherton was caught with a "pocketful of stardust."

    Meanwhile, Tendulkar (a player with a lengthy history with the Referees, and who was very VERY economical with the truth during the Maakigate hearings) has suddenly become a "man of character" just because he's made a lot of runs for India. Dravid's wasn't an accident - he was caught with the cough lolly and then told a string of bizarre lies about the incident. He's a cheat and and liar. He also only displayed one character trait after the Sydney Test - hypocrisy - given the abhorrent behaviour of his team for 5 straight days appeared to have completely escaped his notice.

    Most biased article since the last thing Roebuck wrote.

  • POSTED BY VivR on | February 13, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    You forgot - John Lever; when he toured India in 1976/77, he was using "Vaseline" for hsi "headache" .. naive Indians players and upires at that time didn't what Vaseline was. And, those who knew, kept their mouth shut.

  • POSTED BY simssoul on | February 12, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    woow nice article, but you really do not get the picture of Afridi eating the ball. It was planned, not to cheat, but it was the captaincy saga going on. Shaoib Malik Group vs Muhammad Yousuf. and do not let me explain who was the one that Afridi was eating the ball.He knew he would get a ban, he knew, Shaiob Malik would be the captain, he knew the tussles. you dont need to be a rocket scientist to know what going behind the dressing room, but yet no one see the reason beihnd the stupidity there is politics at its highest in Pakistan cricket team.Shioab Akthar is gone, now it Shoaib Malik Turn.Younis Khan Dropping the catch in the final, Kamral Akmal dropping everything, This team need some unity.they only try to play as a unit against India. Other is a holiday for them.

  • POSTED BY Anneeq on | February 12, 2010, 23:40 GMT

    Tampering of any sort isnt new. The batsmen are always tampering with the pitch quit blatantly scraping their shoes at the crease and prodding the pitch with their bat, why is that allowed but people like Afridi get suspended? I dont like how batsmen get away with that, any deliberate tampering of the pitch should be banned to me, by the bowler AND the batsman. Bats should also stay as they are, non of this carbon fibre nonsense, non of these widened bats either.

    Bowlers should also only be allowed to rough one side of the ball on CLOTHING and nothing else the rules have to be precise, not vague like 'the physical state of the ball is not allowed to be altered.' Thats an out dated law and rubbing the ball on clothing is considered normal practice now.

  • POSTED BY katochnr on | February 12, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    the way you've put it, they should look into ways of working on balls .. but i guess it will never happen .. batsmen will become more powerful and they might as well put a bowling machine

  • POSTED BY NEUTRAL_FAN on | February 12, 2010, 2:46 GMT

    Scream it from the roof tops! Liven up the pitches for goodness sake! Whether it be pace and bounce or vicious turn (not the SLOW TURN that exaggerated Murali's fall from grace, note I said exaggerated ). Back in the day, sixes weren't hit as often and thus they were more exciting (thats why Viv was so great). The idiotic business men who pretended to be cricket fans, thought...hey lets make it so even more 6's can be hit and batsmen hang around longer to hit them. Hence, flatten the tracks even for test matches (so where's the TEST for the batsman) and increase the powerplays. Yes its interesting with strategic powerplay options but why 20! overs of powerplay? So that teams can win games when fielding only 1 good bowler and some sluggers? Hats off to Bond, Steyn, Murali and Asif for having great records in this past batsman biased era. For that alone they should get at least honorable mentions as all time greats.

  • POSTED BY AjayB on | February 12, 2010, 1:27 GMT

    Akash,

    Your writing has class. And a lot of common sense. Keep it up.

    Ajay

  • POSTED BY Himayun on | February 14, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    The article is fine and dandy. Most drivers speed on the highways but Pakistanis showed the finger to the cops! Being a Pakistani American I feel disgusted by Pakistani captain's behavior. There is a culture in Pakistan that the high and mighty do not follow the laws. The higher they are the more "free" they are to do whatever they want.

    Most of the Pakistanis are behind Shahid Afridi's actions and he would definitely be rewarded with the captaincy. Afridi would and should have been banned for life after his multiple acts of disgrace. We are not talking about a kid but a cold calculate, hardened habitual abuser of the laws.

  • POSTED BY SheeeraZ on | February 13, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    I knw how to do reverse swing when i was 10...in pakistan the first thing being learned about bowling is how to bowl a reverse swinger....the art is simple..shine the ball from one side n let the other side suffed up....this is the only way u can swing ball on cemented pitches...we were never been told how to bowl an out swinger coz it never swings on cemented pitches...now its quite easy to understand that if the pitch is not assisting u must need the conditions around you to work for u n with lush green out feilds around the world these days not even the conditions are helpfull for balls more over the 34 over mendatory ball change and the power plays have realy swing the game in batsmen's favour.....u need more balance between bat and ball or else the bowling will become a less desired thing to do for young kids.

  • POSTED BY Smithie on | February 13, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Interesting how the crucifying of Daryl Hair for upholding the laws of cricket on ball tampering is conveniently ignored in all the furore since Afidi's dental disintegration incident. Funny how Sth Africa, NZ, West Indies and Australia are never mentioned in ball tampering dispatches only the Pommes and the Sub Continentals. Is playing by the rules really THAT difficult? However it is perhaps understandable to bend them in an attempt to rebalance the talent gap in both cricketing and pitch preparing skills!

  • POSTED BY The_Wog on | February 13, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    As usual when a subcontinental player is caught ball tampering we tut-tut and then justify the action and call for the Laws to be changed. I don't recall seeing the media scrum saying "Change the silly rule" when Atherton was caught with a "pocketful of stardust."

    Meanwhile, Tendulkar (a player with a lengthy history with the Referees, and who was very VERY economical with the truth during the Maakigate hearings) has suddenly become a "man of character" just because he's made a lot of runs for India. Dravid's wasn't an accident - he was caught with the cough lolly and then told a string of bizarre lies about the incident. He's a cheat and and liar. He also only displayed one character trait after the Sydney Test - hypocrisy - given the abhorrent behaviour of his team for 5 straight days appeared to have completely escaped his notice.

    Most biased article since the last thing Roebuck wrote.

  • POSTED BY VivR on | February 13, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    You forgot - John Lever; when he toured India in 1976/77, he was using "Vaseline" for hsi "headache" .. naive Indians players and upires at that time didn't what Vaseline was. And, those who knew, kept their mouth shut.

  • POSTED BY simssoul on | February 12, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    woow nice article, but you really do not get the picture of Afridi eating the ball. It was planned, not to cheat, but it was the captaincy saga going on. Shaoib Malik Group vs Muhammad Yousuf. and do not let me explain who was the one that Afridi was eating the ball.He knew he would get a ban, he knew, Shaiob Malik would be the captain, he knew the tussles. you dont need to be a rocket scientist to know what going behind the dressing room, but yet no one see the reason beihnd the stupidity there is politics at its highest in Pakistan cricket team.Shioab Akthar is gone, now it Shoaib Malik Turn.Younis Khan Dropping the catch in the final, Kamral Akmal dropping everything, This team need some unity.they only try to play as a unit against India. Other is a holiday for them.

  • POSTED BY Anneeq on | February 12, 2010, 23:40 GMT

    Tampering of any sort isnt new. The batsmen are always tampering with the pitch quit blatantly scraping their shoes at the crease and prodding the pitch with their bat, why is that allowed but people like Afridi get suspended? I dont like how batsmen get away with that, any deliberate tampering of the pitch should be banned to me, by the bowler AND the batsman. Bats should also stay as they are, non of this carbon fibre nonsense, non of these widened bats either.

    Bowlers should also only be allowed to rough one side of the ball on CLOTHING and nothing else the rules have to be precise, not vague like 'the physical state of the ball is not allowed to be altered.' Thats an out dated law and rubbing the ball on clothing is considered normal practice now.

  • POSTED BY katochnr on | February 12, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    the way you've put it, they should look into ways of working on balls .. but i guess it will never happen .. batsmen will become more powerful and they might as well put a bowling machine

  • POSTED BY NEUTRAL_FAN on | February 12, 2010, 2:46 GMT

    Scream it from the roof tops! Liven up the pitches for goodness sake! Whether it be pace and bounce or vicious turn (not the SLOW TURN that exaggerated Murali's fall from grace, note I said exaggerated ). Back in the day, sixes weren't hit as often and thus they were more exciting (thats why Viv was so great). The idiotic business men who pretended to be cricket fans, thought...hey lets make it so even more 6's can be hit and batsmen hang around longer to hit them. Hence, flatten the tracks even for test matches (so where's the TEST for the batsman) and increase the powerplays. Yes its interesting with strategic powerplay options but why 20! overs of powerplay? So that teams can win games when fielding only 1 good bowler and some sluggers? Hats off to Bond, Steyn, Murali and Asif for having great records in this past batsman biased era. For that alone they should get at least honorable mentions as all time greats.

  • POSTED BY AjayB on | February 12, 2010, 1:27 GMT

    Akash,

    Your writing has class. And a lot of common sense. Keep it up.

    Ajay

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | February 12, 2010, 0:37 GMT

    "When batsmen don't get penalised for mistiming a shot or getting beaten, why are we so severe on bowlers for overstepping the crease or for a slight error in line?"

    That makes no sense. Batsman, if mistimes or gets beaten, is likely to pay the price: His wicket; that is there is a natural punishment for such errors, and he is not likley to indulge in it. He may, though, try to hit at the fielders, but then again he may get caught more often than hit the fielder.

    Bowler doesn't have such natural punishment for his error of overstepping and mistiming causing a wide or no ball delivery. Infact bowler may get rewards. Thus the bowler has insentive to intentionally engage in these acts if there is no punishment through rules of the game.

    Basically there is asymmetry in natural reward/punishment for intentionally engaing in mistiming and overstepping. Therefore it makes good sense that the rules of the game bring balance: punishement for both.

  • POSTED BY convertorboy on | February 11, 2010, 21:32 GMT

    So if there are legit ways for the fielding team to modify the ball to suit their needs, why is there support to legalize ball-tampering? @ Bingoe applying saliva is done to PRESERVE one side as opposed to nails and teeth which DAMAGE the other side. A batsman can pat the pitch to PRESERVE its integrity as opposed to running down the middle, DAMAGING it My suggestions for balance would be 1 Better prepared pitches. ICC, you need to step in and have more frequent inspections 2 Make the balls in about 3 different weights. Lighter balls may swing easier, but reach the boundary more often. Let the bowler choose at the beginning. 3 Yellow ODI balls. No more complaining you can't see it, no more 34th over change 4 Relax the leg-side wide ruling PLEASE! 5 Batsmen who attempt the reverse-sweep no longer have protection from a leg-side LBW. If it's gonna hit, call it

  • POSTED BY riz103 on | February 11, 2010, 20:30 GMT

    Maybe it's just me, but I'd really like to see the batsmen work harder for their runs. We can even see test cricketers playing T20 if it really asks for skills from a batsman on a bowler friendly wicket, and I think it'll be just as exciting. If a team hits 25 boundaries in an innings it stops being exciting after a while. I'd rather watch a game hard fought for 200 odd runs than 400; it's not fair to the bowlers when even tail enders can get free runs. If most rules favor the batsmen, the wickets should be bowler friendly.

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | February 11, 2010, 20:01 GMT

    As a cricket fan, I have been hearing since ever about ball tampering. Many former players like you have come forward and shown just how common the practice is. To me the solution for this problem seems two fold. On one hand there needs to be research on producing a better quality ball that swings more and also grips more for spin. Every accessory related to cricket from bats to helmets to guards has been improved with technology. But balls are still the same.

    The other side of the coin is the stigma associated with ball tampering, for whatever reason it is seen as a capital crime in cricket circles. The bans and fines for ball tampering need to be reduced and this should be equivalent to falsely claiming a catch. I don't remember any one getting banned for the wider bats with carbon support that were used in the middle of this decade.

  • POSTED BY allaisax on | February 11, 2010, 19:54 GMT

    Years ago one of Indian captains (was it Pataudi?) asked his fielders to to roll the ball on the ground to the bowler instead of throwing it. It was said it was perfectly legal at that time to do that. That was when India could not produce two fast bowlers of any merit and had always to rely on their spinners to get the wickets.

  • POSTED BY rshaad on | February 11, 2010, 18:12 GMT

    Great Article Akash, Thanks for sharing it. I agree...It's tough on the bowlers these days and there should be an even contest between bat and ball

  • POSTED BY Peligrosisimo3 on | February 11, 2010, 16:57 GMT

    How and why ball tampering is trivialized and made out to be not so bad to me is completely ridiculous.Tampering the ball does not translate into wickets. That is what some fail to realise, so why put yourself in this position(possible embarassment, reprimands even being banned)in the first place. In the match that Afridi was caught, did the fielding side continue using the same ball? If they did then the tampering didnt alter the result in any way.I am not even sure that the reverse swing that everybody keeps talking about is not merely an imagination of the english. Before the ball is about 20 overs old most times we hear the commentators talking about reverse swing. As I think Mike Aurtherton said that sometime bowlers just put the ball in the right areas and the ball moves around whether off the pith or in the air. Swing does exist but the notion that the bowler can scuff the ball and at will produce the deliveries they want to me is completely false al leat to me. So why do it?

  • POSTED BY MysterySpin on | February 11, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    Great article as always. The cleverest example of ball tampering as part of a team plan that I've witnessed has come from much lower levels of the game, which involved the use of a team's finger spinner coming on first change after the opening bowler's spell of conventional swing and then preceeded to bowl two overs of under cutters that, swerved in the air with no turn, causing the ball to land on the chosen rough side of the ball and really scuff it up in a legal manner. After his two overs the team's quicks were able to get the ball to reverse. A very clever, effective and legal strategy that I've yet to see tried in either domestic or international televised matches yet.

  • POSTED BY promal on | February 11, 2010, 14:48 GMT

    @Engr_Haider Exactly as Sam_Singh has said, think of it as though you were throwing the ball seam-up but side-arm. By making sure the ball doesn't wobble and the revs are in the direction of the seam, you ensure the ball lands on the required side. In fact, if you were to bowl like Malinga and have your fingers on the seam pointing horizontally rather than vertically, you would be able to bowl by having the ball land only on one side as well!

  • POSTED BY Sam_Singh on | February 11, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    @ Engr_Haider - We can hold the ball with the fingers (which in most cases will be the index and the middle one) on the seam, tilt our hand to the right (if ur a right-hander, and to the left, otherwise) and then throw in such a way that the ball doesnt fall on the seam at all but on the side facing downward i.e. the one thats chosen to be roughed up. With a little practice, it can be achieved almost all the time.

  • POSTED BY spinkingKK on | February 11, 2010, 12:43 GMT

    Good to get a first hand information on ball tamepring. I was of the opinion that Afridi was just saying it to defend the Pakisthanis who are tampering the ball ( In fact I used to think that the last Twenty20 final was a contest between the Ball tamperers and Chuckers!!). But, now I understand that it is happening with all the countries and Pakisthanis were just bold and honest to admit it. When Tendulkar got caught, I did think that there was something in it because he was getting a great deal of swing when he was bowling. Anyway, thanks for the honest article and shedding light on an art (if we can call it) which is practiced by almost everybody in the Test grade(I heard that Tony Greig also acknowledged this fact).

  • POSTED BY TheOnlyEmperor on | February 11, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    A truly great sportsman who is proud of what he can achieve and deliver, never needs to resort to cheating. Ball tampering is cheating. Period. When people cheat, they bring disrepute to the game and any 5 year old will understand that. The game is bigger than than the player as is the country's reputation that the player represents. Cricket is a sport. It needs to be played within the rules set. Even when they say "all is fair in love and war", there are rules to be followed. I have never seen the West Indian greats ever resort to sledging or being accused of ball tampering. They were truly good and and they knew they didn't have to stoop to such behaviour and that precisely should be the endeavor of every sportsman and official involved with any sport. The values associated with sport don't change over time and if players think they can get away with cheating, the deterrents ought to be far harsher.

  • POSTED BY Big_Chikka on | February 11, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Some good and novel ideas presented. Can't help feeling this still all unnecessary. A bowler could bowl with a boomerang and not get a wicket all day. There is a skill involved in getting people out, it can be loosely described as the "art of bowling." Opposing this is the skill of batting, and helping it are skills of fielding and captaincy among others.

    The question is can you control the condition of the ball? Maybe!. Things like weight of bats, bat pressing, puddles, spilt beer, ad boards, player finger nails, helmets etc etc all impact very randomly the ball. So what you want is to remove randomness.

    In effect play cricket in a gold fish bowl, controlling all extraneous factors interacting with ball. That means no fans touching the ball, netting around the grounds to stop the ball hitting anything other than what is on the pitch, policing the players etc. Can't we just let them get on with the game and pursue with the spirit of cricket and gentlemanly conduct? Keep trying.

  • POSTED BY Engr_Haider on | February 11, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    @ Fahad Sadiq: we all know who the culprits are & who really have God given talent so please, I don't think its good to point finger at anyone (except Afridi coz he is STUPID). @ AC: nice article except I don't understand how throwing the ball from the outfield will always land on one side of it??

  • POSTED BY bingohaley on | February 11, 2010, 10:25 GMT

    Hey Aakash, excellent article. And now for some inside dope: were Dravid and Sachin guilty? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHwYq-N8HU4

  • POSTED BY Bingoe on | February 11, 2010, 10:17 GMT

    based on what TheOnly Emperor is saying bowlers might as well run in with a rock for all the assistance he wants the bowler to have - obviously a batsman! rkannancrown what has racism got to do with this? I feel your comment is completely uncalled for, show me a picture of a white cricketer biting a ball and getting away with it and I might consider your delusions in a different light.

    As for ball tampering itself, I've practised it for 25 years guilt free, however I'd never use foreign objects to that end. I don't see how applying finger nails to one side is any different to applying spit/saliva to the other - both are changing the condition of the ball and the rules should change to reflect that, but they should draw the line at sandpaper, bottle tops, teeth etc

  • POSTED BY CricketMaan on | February 11, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    Akash, its only fair to the format of the games that is popular today which are ODIs and T20 to let the bat do all talking. These are pure entertainment, dominated by bad and bolwers are mere fodders. There is no shame in accepting this truth. it has been that way since Parker days. In between there has been some fine artists who knew what to do with a ball in hand, rest can only come and go as fodders. I dont think rules will change to ease a bowler, i wont be surprised if we soon see 2 new balls being used from either end in an ODI, or double the runs if you hit it to boundary or over the ropes. that is what the public pay for to watch Yuvis, Whites, Pollards, Gayles, Afridis,McCullums go beserk..BTW, i too palyed all my cricket (gully, league) as a bolwer still dont feel sorry for them.

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    Top article Aakash, and I will nail my colours to the mast immediately as a bowler!

    I, like you, believe that the laws of the game have made for too many run fests and as a spectator as well as player there is nothing more dull and unappealing than bat completely dominating ball. The low scoring test matches (when they happen) are full of tension literally ball by ball and too many average batsman are made to look way better than they are by the flat tracks and biased rule changes.

    What happens when the ball does deviate (on the odd ocassion) at the top level, the batsman cant handle it (apart from those with high skill levels who will always adjust their techiniques to conditions!)

    Come on the law makers, even the game up for everyones sake

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    Dravid did it by accident and the Afrdis, Akrams do it on purpose. Good work otherwise.

  • POSTED BY vikramnsit on | February 11, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    I think nowadays we are not seeing the even competition between bat and ball. We are just seeing batsman hitting sixes at will and bowlers have very small room for error. We are seeing flatter tracks and scores close to 350 seem to be chasable. In the last decade, there were plenty of good fast bowlers and nowadays we don't do anything to encourage fast bowling. We keep on making batsman life easy. Ball-tampering should be allowed with some restrictions so that we can see an even contest between bat and ball which makes cricket more interesting rather than making it similar to baseball where every ball is tried to hit for a home run.

  • POSTED BY hasi82 on | February 11, 2010, 8:13 GMT

    Akash very well said, this was my opinion too, gud work keep it up

  • POSTED BY iratewarlock on | February 11, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    good aricle.. the comments of the emperor are quite dumb and sound from 1980 rather than 2010

  • POSTED BY aditrs on | February 11, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    Excellent article. Well balanced and proposes some helpful possible solutions. It would be nice to see those changes implemented.

  • POSTED BY rkannancrown on | February 11, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Akash Chopra has raised several pertinent issues regarding balance between bat & ball. One issue is also the LBW rule and its interpretation. The rule is complicated and should be simplified . personally, i think if the ball is stopped by the pads/ any part of the body while it was going to hit the stumps, the batsman should be out. There is another issue with ball tampering. ICC is only targetting cricketeers from subcontinent. The white teams get caught (on camera & otherwise) as often but ICC seems to have an unwritten rule that whites should go scott free. In fact, the biggest danger to the game is the blatantly racist nature of ICC's interpretation of rules.

  • POSTED BY Marktc on | February 11, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    Very good piece Aakash. Very well put and cleverly argued. It is sad that for entertainment purposes, I am sure, batsman benifit from the rules and general make up of cricket (pitches and bats). To me there is nothing more thrilling that seeing wickets fall. In my opinion, rules should be altered to perhaps work on the shiny side. Eg, allow sweets, suntan cream etc, to aid in the shine of the smooth side. However, no assistance to rough up the other side. The point is, in allowing rules to use aides to rough the ball up, would lead to excess. But allowing aids to work on the shine, do not effect the ball as much. Then the bowlers who are good, will get the swing and not any part time bowler. Other tweaks to rules should also be made. As for Yogesh's bowling machine joke- good one Yogesh.

  • POSTED BY TheOnlyEmperor on | February 11, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    I think the ball should be handed over to the umpire after every ball bowled and at the end of every over, which isn't impossible. Or at least, one must prevent the vigorous rubbing of the ball to one's trowsers and other body parts. Small measures...but the message should go loud and clear that ball tampering is unacceptable, no matter how it is done. When the umpire finds that the ball has somehow been tampered, at the end of a over, then the bowling captain should be given the first warning and a penalty of 25 runs. On the 2rd warning, the batting side gets 100 runs added as bonus and the fielding captain gets docked for the next 3 consecutive tests/ODIs.

    I'm sure this would work. No captain and country would like to face such humiliation and soon the practice of ball tampering would be put to rest. It's so easy!

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | February 11, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Over the years the quality of bats has improved immensely. Even mistimed shots are clearing the boudnry. There is no fuss from anybody about making regulations about the quality of the wood and other aspects of the bat unless its dimensions and materials are in compliance. We all know it is a game of bat against ball. Then why not improve the quality of the balls also. Make the seam more prominent so the bowlers dont have to pick it. And improe the quality of the leather with some artificial substnaces so that it will encourage traditional swing with the new ball or apply 2 different leather of materials on the both side of the ball so that if the sides look after the bowl well then it will aid reverse swing when the ball is old. After this put very very stringent punishment on the offenders who in any ways try to alter the condition of the ball. The punishment should include suspension of the captain rather than actual offender as the captain is the one controling proceedings.

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    I admire the clarity of thoughts in your article. It truly is an eyeopener for those who are trying to make cricket only for batsmen. If proper methods are not adopted, very soon one would see a 10 on 10 match with a bowling machine besides umpire.

  • POSTED BY mumbaiguy79 on | February 11, 2010, 3:51 GMT

    Nicely written Aakash! This is sort of an insider scoop on how things are done at the highest level ;-)

  • POSTED BY JGuru on | February 11, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    A very very interesting article. Aakash introduced the laymen to the nuances of the ball tampering and it's benefits. While tinkering with the ball is not the legitimate way to go about approaching the game it cannot be denied that cricket in all formats in fully loaded in batsmen favor. As Aakash rightly pointed out, the game rules should have to be revisited and the authorities at the helm should realize the contest can remain fair only if bowlers start enjoying some more freedom. Also the point on free hit is very thought provoking. Cricket has lost its sanity of late and getting more and more commercialized day by day. Reverse swing has become a major weapon in bowler's armory and the need of the same arose only after the pitches have started to loose its character around the world. If the wicket is fair, even natured and assists bowlers I don't think there will be a need for teams to scuff the ball to take wickets. Flat tracks would mean the game remains flat.

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  • POSTED BY JGuru on | February 11, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    A very very interesting article. Aakash introduced the laymen to the nuances of the ball tampering and it's benefits. While tinkering with the ball is not the legitimate way to go about approaching the game it cannot be denied that cricket in all formats in fully loaded in batsmen favor. As Aakash rightly pointed out, the game rules should have to be revisited and the authorities at the helm should realize the contest can remain fair only if bowlers start enjoying some more freedom. Also the point on free hit is very thought provoking. Cricket has lost its sanity of late and getting more and more commercialized day by day. Reverse swing has become a major weapon in bowler's armory and the need of the same arose only after the pitches have started to loose its character around the world. If the wicket is fair, even natured and assists bowlers I don't think there will be a need for teams to scuff the ball to take wickets. Flat tracks would mean the game remains flat.

  • POSTED BY mumbaiguy79 on | February 11, 2010, 3:51 GMT

    Nicely written Aakash! This is sort of an insider scoop on how things are done at the highest level ;-)

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    I admire the clarity of thoughts in your article. It truly is an eyeopener for those who are trying to make cricket only for batsmen. If proper methods are not adopted, very soon one would see a 10 on 10 match with a bowling machine besides umpire.

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | February 11, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Over the years the quality of bats has improved immensely. Even mistimed shots are clearing the boudnry. There is no fuss from anybody about making regulations about the quality of the wood and other aspects of the bat unless its dimensions and materials are in compliance. We all know it is a game of bat against ball. Then why not improve the quality of the balls also. Make the seam more prominent so the bowlers dont have to pick it. And improe the quality of the leather with some artificial substnaces so that it will encourage traditional swing with the new ball or apply 2 different leather of materials on the both side of the ball so that if the sides look after the bowl well then it will aid reverse swing when the ball is old. After this put very very stringent punishment on the offenders who in any ways try to alter the condition of the ball. The punishment should include suspension of the captain rather than actual offender as the captain is the one controling proceedings.

  • POSTED BY TheOnlyEmperor on | February 11, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    I think the ball should be handed over to the umpire after every ball bowled and at the end of every over, which isn't impossible. Or at least, one must prevent the vigorous rubbing of the ball to one's trowsers and other body parts. Small measures...but the message should go loud and clear that ball tampering is unacceptable, no matter how it is done. When the umpire finds that the ball has somehow been tampered, at the end of a over, then the bowling captain should be given the first warning and a penalty of 25 runs. On the 2rd warning, the batting side gets 100 runs added as bonus and the fielding captain gets docked for the next 3 consecutive tests/ODIs.

    I'm sure this would work. No captain and country would like to face such humiliation and soon the practice of ball tampering would be put to rest. It's so easy!

  • POSTED BY Marktc on | February 11, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    Very good piece Aakash. Very well put and cleverly argued. It is sad that for entertainment purposes, I am sure, batsman benifit from the rules and general make up of cricket (pitches and bats). To me there is nothing more thrilling that seeing wickets fall. In my opinion, rules should be altered to perhaps work on the shiny side. Eg, allow sweets, suntan cream etc, to aid in the shine of the smooth side. However, no assistance to rough up the other side. The point is, in allowing rules to use aides to rough the ball up, would lead to excess. But allowing aids to work on the shine, do not effect the ball as much. Then the bowlers who are good, will get the swing and not any part time bowler. Other tweaks to rules should also be made. As for Yogesh's bowling machine joke- good one Yogesh.

  • POSTED BY rkannancrown on | February 11, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Akash Chopra has raised several pertinent issues regarding balance between bat & ball. One issue is also the LBW rule and its interpretation. The rule is complicated and should be simplified . personally, i think if the ball is stopped by the pads/ any part of the body while it was going to hit the stumps, the batsman should be out. There is another issue with ball tampering. ICC is only targetting cricketeers from subcontinent. The white teams get caught (on camera & otherwise) as often but ICC seems to have an unwritten rule that whites should go scott free. In fact, the biggest danger to the game is the blatantly racist nature of ICC's interpretation of rules.

  • POSTED BY aditrs on | February 11, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    Excellent article. Well balanced and proposes some helpful possible solutions. It would be nice to see those changes implemented.

  • POSTED BY iratewarlock on | February 11, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    good aricle.. the comments of the emperor are quite dumb and sound from 1980 rather than 2010

  • POSTED BY hasi82 on | February 11, 2010, 8:13 GMT

    Akash very well said, this was my opinion too, gud work keep it up