Champions Trophy 2013 June 15, 2013

Lots of rumour, but no hard evidence

The words of a former England captain turned commentator have sparked a controversy around the Champions Trophy hosts but, as yet, there is no hard evidence
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If there is proof that England have been ball tampering then nobody is complaining. Not the ICC, not the umpires, not the match officials, nor any of the captains of the other seven competing nations.

There is no umpires' report hidden in a safe at Lord's alleging that England have been ball tampering. According to ICC sources, no such suspicions have been verbally broached in any official capacity. Not from umpires Kumar Dharmasena or Marias Erasmus to the match referee, Javagal Srinath, after England bowled out Australia cheaply at Edgbaston, nor from umpires Aleem Dar or Billy Bowden when Srinath was again the match referee as Sri Lanka gave England's bowlers a battering at The Oval.

As yet there is Exhibit A: no ball with a razor-sharp seam, or a raised quarter seam or with scratches the depth of a rift valley. None of the 29 TV cameras have provided footage of players shiftily spitting sugary saliva onto their hands. The finest cricket photographers in the world have yet to be seen waving the image that will make them their fortune.

No sandpaper has been found in players' pockets or hotel laundries. Even Michael Atherton, once pilloried after being caught up in a dirt-in-the-pocket affair while England captain, has not been seen delivering a little sachet of finest Lancastrian clay to the England dressing room.

No umpire has seen fit to impose a five-run penalty upon England for ball tampering, a decision which would state categorically that they had reason to believe there was cheating going on. There again, Darrell Hair did that and the firestorm which followed ended Hair's career and led to years of ICC politicking. The five-run penalty is a rule that no umpire dares levy.

The extended sleeve with a convenient thumb hole that Alastair Cook has used to entirely legally polish the ball is a jolly good idea and shows how seriously England take their ball management. Perhaps one day all cricket shirts will be made this way.

What we are variously left with is an outspoken and knowledgeable former England captain who is adamant he knows something dodgy when he sees it, a lot of well-meaning suspicion, which is fine and proper, and a craving to see England condemned without evidence, which is not.

And we will probably not see the 12th man deliver any more sweets to Ravi Bopara just in case people follow the example of Dirk Nannes, the Australian bowler, on BBC radio, and speculate about the reasons for his sweet tooth.

What we are also witnessing is an unofficial ICC clampdown on England's habit of throwing the ball into the stumps on the bounce to deliberately roughen up the ball. The technique is entirely legal - and it is adopted by England not just because it can hasten the arrival of reverse swing but because, if compared to a high arc, it gets the ball to the stumps faster. You can hardly legislate against that.

But teams were still advised before the tournament that it would be frowned upon. Umpires are often seen telling fielding sides to keep the ball up, but in doing so they are arguably stepping outside their responsibilities.

So first we had the MCC Laws, then we had the MCC Laws plus ICC regulations specific to the tournament as the balance of power shifted, now we have the Laws and the specific regulations and secret pre-tournament warnings that are never made public. Such secrecy is an insult to those who watch the game.

Ashley Giles, England's one-day coach, made a telling point in assembling England's case for the defence. England's international outfields are much dryer since the ECB invested heavily in drainage systems to reduce lost play to a minimum. Until the rain of recent days, the weather has been colder and dryer than normal, making grass growth less lush. Squares, awash with old wickets anyway because of England's heavy first-class programme, are also cut down low for practice wickets.

The result is conditions perfect for encouraging reverse swing - if you know how to get the ball prepared and then have the ability to bowl with it.

Get one side legally dry, and polish the other for all it is worth and all this eventually makes it easier to get a ball into the condition for it to reverse swing. The secret is recognising when the ball is in optimum condition.

But the ball is not a Dukes, which is often used in England, and which the England attack can hoop around corners, but a Kookaburra, which is normally less responsive.

The Kookaburra - the brand used in all ODIs - also does not generally lose its form so easily. The ball in question was effectively replaced after 12 overs due to one being used at each end since the new October 2012 regulations. The chances of that happening for entirely innocent reasons without something going on somewhere are tiny.

When umpire Dar checked the ball in the Sri Lanka match, he hid it under a big blue towel so none of the cameras could see what was happening. Cricket has always given the public information it deserves on a need-to-know basis, but such checks need to be made publicly

The ICC continues to insist that the ball that was changed during England's tie against Sri Lanka was misshapen, but there is confusion over whether the ball could still fit through the gauge. One England official said 'yes', so justifying Cook's anger that the ball had been changed; another England official later said 'no', which thereby supported the view that the ball was misshapen and dampened down gossip about ball tampering.

When umpire Dar checked the ball in the Sri Lanka match, he hid it under a big blue towel so none of the cameras could see what was happening. Cricket has always given the public information it deserves on a need-to-know basis, but such checks need to be made publicly.

Even if the ball didn't go through the gauge, it would not quite prove everything. One respected umpire used to carry around a gauge designed for women's cricket, where the ball is smaller. Whenever he suspected there was ball tampering going on, he would change the ball on the grounds that it had become misshapen and would not go through the gauge.

Bob Willis played enough Tests for England, and knew enough about the fast bowler's art, for his views to be taken seriously. He has been supported on Twitter, that digital receptacle of instant opinion, by David Lloyd, who as a former England coach and a one-time county umpire, also knows that the boundaries on what constitutes ball tampering have been pushed since the mists of time.

But Willis is also the chief provocateur in Sky TV's commentary team - and knows he is expected to be. Sky might be the rights-holding broadcaster but the ECB, as is fitting, makes no attempt to restrict their free speech. Last year, he pronounced that Saeed Ajmal chucked it, ignoring scientific studies carried out on behalf of ICC, and which were later revealed in detail by ESPNcricinfo, that concluded he did not. This year he "knows" England are ball tampering.

Some people are contending that George Bailey, Australia's captain, clearly alluded to ball tampering after their defeat against England at Edgbaston. .

The ICC's official transcript quotes Bailey thus:

Questioner: "Were you surprised how quickly England were reversing the ball?

Bailey: "Very, yeah. It was good skill that. What I sort of felt was it went like from swinging conventionally to swinging reverse within an over or two. No doubt they have worked on it a little bit. We saw they bowled some cross-seams and maybe bowling a little bit of spin early plays a part in that as well. I think they're schooled at it, but I think it's something we need to look at and try and exploit if that's going to be the conditions because it just made their bowling plan so simple for the quick ones."

Now Bailey is a very affable man, but to interpret his comments as an accusation of unacceptable ball tampering is to stretch it beyond acceptable limits. Like the rest, he admires England's superior skills at reverse swing and he naturally wonders if it is 100% legitimate. He probably also wonders, like all teams, if Australia could learn something.

And that is what we have: a lot of people wondering. And, as yet, no evidence in sight.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Cyril_Knight on | June 17, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    The best captains ensure their players really look after the ball. At Surrey early this season, Graeme Smith made sure that after every delivery the ball was returned to Wilson who managed the shine. He got really angry if the ball was not kept "up", i.e. if it unnecessarily bounced.

    I had never seen such a professional approach before. You cannot see all the work that goes on on television. The work on the ball continued all day even with little evidence that it was worth the effort. But on The Oval flat track and over batting friendly wickets every effort has to be made to gain even the smallest advantage.

    Why are England so good at gaining reverse swing? It's simple really they have greater control of the seam, they have their wrists behind the ball correctly. No other collection of bowlers can do this as well collectively.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | June 19, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    On watching a replay of Aus vs Eng game, my opinion has changed. Has anyone ever seen the ball reverse in the 2nd over? ICC should seriously look into the matter and SA should be wary of them doing it again and keep an eye on the ball's state over after over!

  • POSTED BY TheOnlyEmperor on | June 19, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Since the law disallows ball tampering, I don't see any reason why any person should be allowed to 'shine' the ball and change its nature. If that's not ball tampering, what is? In case the ball gets wet, the ball can be passed on to the umpire who can dry it with a hand towel and pass it on to the bowler.

    ICC should stop this nonsense of allowing people to put a 'shine' on the ball.

  • POSTED BY jevans90 on | June 17, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    @Chesty-la-roux: "The same bowlers who were previously unplayable"? Except it wasn't the same bowlers - in 2005 Simon Jones was England's main Reverse-swing bowler. He never played international cricket again. So, it's not a massive surprise that without the bowler they looked to to reverse it, England stopped being able to reverse it consistently.

  • POSTED BY wrenx on | June 17, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    @clarke501 Some clarification needed - England were pretty down and out in that test match, somewhere in the region of 350 behind on first innings alone. They weren't winning that match without Darrel Hair

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | June 17, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Some people (like Willis) would say anything to be on tv. Knocking around the wet ball would make it go out of shape rather quickly. I don't think they tampered with the ball but who knows. Its easy to see why Cook was displeased. On a dry wicket, he would have hoped to use the reverse swing on offer to skittle out the Lankans, given that Broad and Anderson are adept at using it.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | June 17, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    @SpizenFire 'Let the rest judge it'. No, let the umpires be the sole judge. No report of ball tampering, no award of penalty runs.

    @Chesty-la-roux England made absolutely no comment on the subject in 2006. Darrel Hair wasn't someone who would have been swayed by such representations anyway. The action he took, wrongly as it turned out, was on his own initiative as umpire. England weren't 'getting hammered by Pakistan'. They won the series 2-0 (excluding the Oval 'result').

  • POSTED BY SpizenFire on | June 17, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney: Watch Bresnan in SL innings, 2nd powerplay. Watch carefully to catch the obvious.

    Whenever Pakistan played cricket, spectators, commentators and TV audience always had a keen eye on what their bowlers were doing to extract such fantastic reverse swing. Now the eyes of the cricketing world will be on England bowlers. As far as evidence goes, it will never be good enough for an offending team. Let the rest judge it.

  • POSTED BY Chesty-la-roux on | June 17, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    Well let me see, 2005, england gain prodigious reverse swing and win the ashes while Australias legendary bowlers can barely get the ball to deviate a fraction. 2006, england, while getting hammered by Pakistan, complain about ball tampering triggering a chain of events they could not have imagined. As a result ball tampering is still very much in the spotlight the following year and the reverse swing of years past mysteriously deserts the same english bowlers who were previously unplayable. England hammered 5-0. Next ashes in 2009 ball tampering no longer in the headlines and england once again remember how to reverse the ball. Lets wait and see how england swing the ball over the next few months.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | June 17, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    @bonaku on (June 16, 2013, 8:17 GMT), I know that you want to play the victim but this is a different situation. When Pakistan were accused of ball-tampering, most people didn't know that reverse swing existed. The fact that the ball was behaving in ways that (it was thought) should not have been possible was considered evidence in and of itself. In this case, the ball was not doing anything unusual at all. If it weren't for Bob Willis then noone would be talking about this at all. The England team have been accused of ball-tampering by an ex-England player who has no actual evidence. All those in an official capacity have said that there was no ball-tampering and no accusation of ball-tampering. What else is there to talk about? Did you see any evidence of ball-tampering? If not then what are you complaining about?

  • POSTED BY Cyril_Knight on | June 17, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    The best captains ensure their players really look after the ball. At Surrey early this season, Graeme Smith made sure that after every delivery the ball was returned to Wilson who managed the shine. He got really angry if the ball was not kept "up", i.e. if it unnecessarily bounced.

    I had never seen such a professional approach before. You cannot see all the work that goes on on television. The work on the ball continued all day even with little evidence that it was worth the effort. But on The Oval flat track and over batting friendly wickets every effort has to be made to gain even the smallest advantage.

    Why are England so good at gaining reverse swing? It's simple really they have greater control of the seam, they have their wrists behind the ball correctly. No other collection of bowlers can do this as well collectively.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | June 19, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    On watching a replay of Aus vs Eng game, my opinion has changed. Has anyone ever seen the ball reverse in the 2nd over? ICC should seriously look into the matter and SA should be wary of them doing it again and keep an eye on the ball's state over after over!

  • POSTED BY TheOnlyEmperor on | June 19, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Since the law disallows ball tampering, I don't see any reason why any person should be allowed to 'shine' the ball and change its nature. If that's not ball tampering, what is? In case the ball gets wet, the ball can be passed on to the umpire who can dry it with a hand towel and pass it on to the bowler.

    ICC should stop this nonsense of allowing people to put a 'shine' on the ball.

  • POSTED BY jevans90 on | June 17, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    @Chesty-la-roux: "The same bowlers who were previously unplayable"? Except it wasn't the same bowlers - in 2005 Simon Jones was England's main Reverse-swing bowler. He never played international cricket again. So, it's not a massive surprise that without the bowler they looked to to reverse it, England stopped being able to reverse it consistently.

  • POSTED BY wrenx on | June 17, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    @clarke501 Some clarification needed - England were pretty down and out in that test match, somewhere in the region of 350 behind on first innings alone. They weren't winning that match without Darrel Hair

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | June 17, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Some people (like Willis) would say anything to be on tv. Knocking around the wet ball would make it go out of shape rather quickly. I don't think they tampered with the ball but who knows. Its easy to see why Cook was displeased. On a dry wicket, he would have hoped to use the reverse swing on offer to skittle out the Lankans, given that Broad and Anderson are adept at using it.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | June 17, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    @SpizenFire 'Let the rest judge it'. No, let the umpires be the sole judge. No report of ball tampering, no award of penalty runs.

    @Chesty-la-roux England made absolutely no comment on the subject in 2006. Darrel Hair wasn't someone who would have been swayed by such representations anyway. The action he took, wrongly as it turned out, was on his own initiative as umpire. England weren't 'getting hammered by Pakistan'. They won the series 2-0 (excluding the Oval 'result').

  • POSTED BY SpizenFire on | June 17, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney: Watch Bresnan in SL innings, 2nd powerplay. Watch carefully to catch the obvious.

    Whenever Pakistan played cricket, spectators, commentators and TV audience always had a keen eye on what their bowlers were doing to extract such fantastic reverse swing. Now the eyes of the cricketing world will be on England bowlers. As far as evidence goes, it will never be good enough for an offending team. Let the rest judge it.

  • POSTED BY Chesty-la-roux on | June 17, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    Well let me see, 2005, england gain prodigious reverse swing and win the ashes while Australias legendary bowlers can barely get the ball to deviate a fraction. 2006, england, while getting hammered by Pakistan, complain about ball tampering triggering a chain of events they could not have imagined. As a result ball tampering is still very much in the spotlight the following year and the reverse swing of years past mysteriously deserts the same english bowlers who were previously unplayable. England hammered 5-0. Next ashes in 2009 ball tampering no longer in the headlines and england once again remember how to reverse the ball. Lets wait and see how england swing the ball over the next few months.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | June 17, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    @bonaku on (June 16, 2013, 8:17 GMT), I know that you want to play the victim but this is a different situation. When Pakistan were accused of ball-tampering, most people didn't know that reverse swing existed. The fact that the ball was behaving in ways that (it was thought) should not have been possible was considered evidence in and of itself. In this case, the ball was not doing anything unusual at all. If it weren't for Bob Willis then noone would be talking about this at all. The England team have been accused of ball-tampering by an ex-England player who has no actual evidence. All those in an official capacity have said that there was no ball-tampering and no accusation of ball-tampering. What else is there to talk about? Did you see any evidence of ball-tampering? If not then what are you complaining about?

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    Why so much fuss? Whoever so is complaining about ball tempering please do us all a favor and provide a legit evidence to support your claim. There are plenty of TV cameras and if none of them weren't able to pick anything, I'm sorry not buying this. I had the same stance when Mr Hair accused Pakistan of ball tempering, prove your claim otherwise keep your opinion to yourself. It's just a case of sour grapes that if I can't do it, how and why would you do it.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | June 16, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    Malinga only get reverse swing when he delivers the yorker, here is the question mark that how ball got reverse swing in 2nd over? Malinga get reverse swing when ball gets old. I never saw in county cricket that any English bowler do so. I saw Kallis got sharp reverse swing with the new ball.

  • POSTED BY Cover_drive_55 on | June 16, 2013, 17:07 GMT

    @alipk52 : Malinga should definitely be on the list of current bowlers who can reverse swing and definitely making more effective use of the skill than others

  • POSTED BY Un_Citoyen_Indien on | June 16, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Well, I feel that these allegations must be taken very seriously by the ICC (coming as they do from a cricketer of Bob Willis's stature, no less) and a thorough investigation needs to be launched.

    If England are guilty, severe action must be taken against Cook and Co. Ball tampering is totally unacceptable and completely against the spirit and values of the game.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    Not too many genuine swing bowlers on here that I see.

  • POSTED BY alexkrish on | June 16, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    No evidence does not mean anything. Swing to reverse swing in a couple of overs is against the laws of physics.

  • POSTED BY Englishmanabroad on | June 16, 2013, 11:18 GMT

    To be honest, I am a bit disappointed in Bob Willis (if he is the source of these comments). I have always been a big fan of his, but it is one thing to suspect something is going on, and an entirely different thing to say absolutely that something is going on. Particularly when it is done on the world wide media, and without presenting any supporting evidence.

    It does nothing but darken the name of Cricket.

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | June 16, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    This is going to be an unwatchable sport soon with all these restrictions to playing conditions which can only satisfy the needs of pettyfogging rule mongers. Honestly if you have to find devilry in a ball bouncing in the playing area then there is no hope. Maybe they could send the ball off to be examined under a microscope between balls. I never watched the game for this sort of idiocy but to watch the various skills on view. Maybe they could search each of the players between overs,have their living quarterts bugged or even keep them in special camps. There are so many cameras around, the umpires are actually in possession of one ball every over and the ball spends most of the time in play or returning to the bowler. Maybe special birds are dropping off packages of aids to swing, or the undersides of their feet have been coated with a swing agent which ends up on the grass where they have walked. Or there are microchips which receive radio messages in the balls......

  • POSTED BY cabinet96 on | June 16, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    @Rahul_78 - I see your point, but Malinga was definitely reversing the ball against NZ. I also don't consider Sri Lank and India to be as good exponents of reverse swing as England, they just play in conditions that are incredibly conducive to reverse.

  • POSTED BY Friendlymc on | June 16, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    This is an international tournament and when balls are changed for reasons that umpires are unwilling to share with the public then something is amiss. When accusations are then made that balls are being changed because of ball tampering, or because batsmen are not happy that the ball is reverse swinging then the reasons for that ball change need to be made public. Lets see the ball. Mr Dar please explain your decision. Can we please have more transparency.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | June 16, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    It's a difficult subject. I mean for 1 how do you prove that throwing the ball in on the bounce is a deliberate ploy to rough up the ball? I also wonder if Willis has put his position with Sky in jeopardy? Sky have in the past been very quick to out folk (on other sports) who have aired controversial views and I can't see ECB being too happy with one of the Sky team saying such a thing - regardless of the truth of it

  • POSTED BY Patdabac on | June 16, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    @Alan Thomas: Don't make me laugh. Stuart Broad, Master of Reverse Swing?. He can't even use conventional swing consistently. James Anderson yes in tests with a 70 over old ball but not that much and consistently with the white ball in limited overs cricket. Bowlers like Steyn, Morkel, Malinga, Gul, Johnson, and even Starc are far more superior and more skilled when using reverse.

    What good is bringing Simon Jones and Freddie into this?, are they still playing?. They were far better than Broad but even they don't belong in the class of Waqar, Wasim ect do they?

  • POSTED BY ThirteenthMan on | June 16, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    @Greatest_Game

    If a cricket ball strikes the ground, even at a fairy obique angel, there is some energy loss into the ground and some in deformation/damage to the ball. How much energy is lost will depend on the condition of the surfaces, of both ball and ground, and the position of the seam.

    The sense in aiming low (below) is there is less chance of missing the stumps over the top.

  • POSTED BY Perera32 on | June 16, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    I went to watch this match at the Oval. Swann got some spin and Anderson got the ball to swing a bit when he got ball to pitch in the right areas. For quality bowlers like Jimmy and Swann, I don't think they need do anything to the ball to get wickets. Bob Willis is known to say unnecessary things in the past. Like his ideas about Ajmal and saying on live telly for Samit Patel to "Cut down on the poppadoms and do some exercise".

    Sanga is one of the modern greats and he made Batting look dreadfully easy on Wednesday. I don't think England tampered the ball at all. But Tim Bresnan is known to bowl the ball on a side angle, so one side gets scuffed up, I've seen him do this in the Tests vs India in 2011. That is fully legal to my knowledge. This could be the reason why the ball was changed.

    As for Giles, to use the word "We" in his statement "We are not ball tamperers", is very unproffessional. It indicates, that he thinks that other teams are ball tamperers.

  • POSTED BY bonaku on | June 16, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    If it were Pakistan, it would have been completely different story. Ppl will not ask for any proof.

  • POSTED BY Perera32 on | June 16, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    @alipk52: I agree with you mate, you might want to add Lasith Malinga to that list too. The new rule with 2 new balls have affected teams in the sub continent very unfairly. On flat pitches 2 new balls have no effect what so ever. To add to that spinners only have 4 fielders outside the ring, making batting-bowling very unequal in the subcontinent.

    Reverse swing is now completley taken out of the limited overs cricket. Players like Malinga, Gul and Khan(little old now) were outstanding in the death overs but now, cannot get the ball to reverse. Therefore players like Malinga have now developed new variations(slower dipping yorker) to keep the runs down. Whereas fast bowlers from outside the subcontinet will have an advantage over the bowlers from the subcontinent, which I think is unfair. This new rule with 2 new balls will only encourage players that play on flat pitches to roughen up the ball or even tamper the ball.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | June 16, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    @phaedrus81.

    1. Ground has NO coefficient of restitution (COR.) No single object has COR without reference to a 2nd object. COR is a ratio resulting from a collision between 2 objects. COR = (relative speed after collision)/(relative speed before collision). A cricket ball striking the turf at an oblique angle will generate little friction, & little inelasticity occurs in the 'bounce collision.' The bounce takes little off ball speed

    2. Gravity affects a 'bounce ball' or 'no-bounce ball' the same. A 'no-bounce ball' MUST travel in an arc, NOT the shortest line between two points. The bounce ball takes the direct route, slowing little because of the bounce.

    3. There is no slingshot effect due to the gravitational force of KP's ego - an arc ball cannot accelerate. Even thrown by Jonty Rhodes, a cricket ball does not enter a quantum state - unless at the Kotla, where a COR of 1 plus or -1 minus is apparently possible. Perhaps a quantum leap after all?

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | June 16, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    An Australian perspective:-Until there is any evidence that there is actually something underhand going on these speculations are pointless and, depending on motive, perhaps malicious. By all means look very closely at the fielding side, and if they're caught meddling with the ball throw the book at them. I must admit I found the English use of the ball shining mints a few years ago disappointing, but without valid evidence making assertions only serves to highlight one's prejudices.

  • POSTED BY 158notout on | June 16, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    phaedrus81 - not 100% sure this sitruebut would it be the case that the ball gets to the stumps faster because the trajectory is much shorter than when throwing up in an arc?

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    @david botwright..you must be a spinner..hehe..no one in the world can reverse swing a new ball..batsman know it so do fast bowlers...its against the laws of physics..

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | June 16, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    Mr.Hopps you have convinenetly forgotten that the teams like Pakistan who are pioneer and master of reverse swing along with India and Sri Lanka who are also decent exponents of this art are also playing this tournmanet under same conditions. But they have not been able to extract the reverse swing with 2 new balls used from both ends. Historically it has been proven that under grey english clouds the new ball swings decently in early overs and white ball more so. But never has been reverse swing been achieved in as early as 20th over of a match. With two new balls if the ball is reversing in 36th over then in truth it is just used for 18 overs. This is unearthed of. We can all argue about the dry weather, practice pitches and cross seam but in theory it is common knowledge that even under harsh, hot and steamy subcontinent conditions the ball needs to be very carefully managed and WORKED on for long time for it to start reversing. Even there it doesn't happen around 18th over onward.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    Feels funny to be on the other side of ball tampering allegations...

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    @phaedrus81 - i'm sure teams have done their research on which is better. The ball is thrown in a different arc and at a different speed when thrown on the bounce, so it still works despite losing speed on impact.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    I have played cricket for many years in Canada and our league uses Kookaburra balls. Many of the premier division bowlers can reverse swing the new ball right from the first over. Surely a professional training many times a week can do the same.

  • POSTED BY phaedrus81 on | June 16, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    "but because it gets the ball to the stumps faster"

    Is this proven fact (backed by timings) that the ball gets to the stumps faster on the bounce or just pure gibberish. By the same token, short pitched bowling should register higher on the speed-o-meters compared to fullish yorkers and if I am not mistaken that's normally not the case.

    Also, physics would suggest, that unless the ground has an unheard of coefficient of restitution, the ball would lose velocity on impact, rather than speeding up :D

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    There are many ways to alter the ball that NO ONE will ever spot.

  • POSTED BY Kays789 on | June 15, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Sort of ironical how England has switched places on the topic of reverse swing isn't it? In any case it's Bob Willis. Do people even take this guy seriously anymore? This guy is all about controversies and conspiracies. Move on.

  • POSTED BY 58cans on | June 15, 2013, 23:24 GMT

    As long it,s in within the spirit 0f the game all is good,if not the question has to be asked

  • POSTED BY Teachers on | June 15, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    If England legitimately benefit from polishing one side of the ball I do not see why other nations cannot do the same. There are two skills at play here, polishing the ball and obtaining reverse swing, and both skills have to come together for the desired result. Even if Australia learn how to polish the ball, they still have to learn how to reverse swing, so let's stop pointing the finger at England and start learning their skills instead.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    All forms of messing with the ball should be banned. Bowling advantage should be left to the skills of the bowlers rather than crafty alterations to the ball.

  • POSTED BY ARad on | June 15, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    I am glad that we are finally having proper arguments based on publicly available evidence to evaluate such claims about teams. Kudos to David Hopps for not taking the same route that has been taken by past (English) journalists when other teams (or not-really-English players such as KP) were similarly accused via rumours. Please provide the evidence to the public instead of expecting us to judge your own verdict without evidence unless you (un)wittingly want to be part of those who leak things via press to affect the public opinion. (When you do so, you become part of the problem and your journalistic integrity is diminished in the eyes of discerning public.) Thanks again for proper journalism!

  • POSTED BY PanGlupek on | June 15, 2013, 21:20 GMT

    @Jonny Wilkins; Exactly, as the article suggests, it seems like England just know how to reverse a ball rather than foul play.

    If there is TV/umpire/ICC/fan evience to suggest England are doing anything illegal, they could/should/will be punished.

    If there's not, perhaps Sky should re-assess Bob Willis' role as "agent provocatuer".

  • POSTED BY Baseball-Sucks on | June 15, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    There are only 2 possible scenarios which could have happened here.

    1) The fielding team can request for a change of the ball and in this case it clearly didn't happen.In fact Mr. Cook was pretty furious about it.

    2) The umpires can change the ball if they notice that the integrity of the ball is compromised and that's what happened in this case. So the ball was somehow damaged here. But, how that ball was damaged is a real MYSTERY !!!

    English fielders kept throwing the ball to the keeper on the bounce , off the practice pitches from a distance of 20-30 yards. And the umpires were seen advising the fielders not to do so. And it happened quite a few times. And finally they changed the ball. Do we really need more evidence ?????

    And I know one thing for sure that SL batsmen did not ask the umpires to change of the ball. lol

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | June 15, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    Excellent article. Thank goodness for some sanity on this subject at last. There seems to be a ritual dance which the sport has to perform periodically on this issue where a 'revelation' is greeted with moral indignation, followed by pointless tinkering with the laws and everything then carries on much as before. The current law is clearly unenforceable and is therefore a bad law. Time to ask whether tampering really is that heinous a crime and whether a law aimed at banning only the most obvious abuses (bottle tops etc) would't be more effective.

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | June 15, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    It's right to be wary: it always is. I do think there a few reasons for England reversing the ball earlier than others though. They start bowling cross seam far earlier than other sides (Broad has been doing it in his first over); they throw the ball in to the stumps on the bounce far more often than other sides, which is what seemed to annoy Dar in the game on Thursday; the fact that Giles is their coach, a man who was part of the 2005 unit that was so adept at getting the ball reversing; the fact that Cook is one of the better shiners of a ball in cricket. With so many cameras around and the umps holding on to the ball at the end of the over it's just too difficult to get away with anything underhand, the penalties too great. Not saying it isn't tampering, but I'd be surprised. It all just feels a bit wrong though.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Seems like a fair assessment. You would think with the plethora of photographers and HD cameras surrounding the players that if something untoward were going on then it would have been seen?

    If the reverse swing is being caused by returning the ball on the bounce, bowling spinners early in the innings (Joe Root's introduction before Graeme Swann?), and Cook's 'polishing sleeve' then good luck to them, it's for the other sides to catch up.

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | June 15, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Bob Willis is England's Bishen Singh Bedi. If we made a big deal about every thing Bedi had to say, then we will run out space on Cricinfo!

  • POSTED BY haq33 on | June 15, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    I would love to hear from all the England fans who swore by Boycott's grandma that Willis was bang on right about Ajmal two years ago. That said, I disagree entirely with Willis' speculations now as I did then. England's bowling unit has in recent years mastered reverse swing through entirely legit ball roughening methods. Great to see the art is alive and well. Willis should can it.

  • POSTED BY haq33 on | June 15, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    I would love to hear from all the England fans who swore by Boycott's grandma that Willis was bang on right about Ajmal two years ago. That said, I disagree entirely with Willis' speculations now as I did then. England's bowling unit has in recent years mastered reverse swing through entirely legit ball roughening methods. Great to see the art is alive and well. Willis should can it.

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | June 15, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Bob Willis is England's Bishen Singh Bedi. If we made a big deal about every thing Bedi had to say, then we will run out space on Cricinfo!

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Seems like a fair assessment. You would think with the plethora of photographers and HD cameras surrounding the players that if something untoward were going on then it would have been seen?

    If the reverse swing is being caused by returning the ball on the bounce, bowling spinners early in the innings (Joe Root's introduction before Graeme Swann?), and Cook's 'polishing sleeve' then good luck to them, it's for the other sides to catch up.

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | June 15, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    It's right to be wary: it always is. I do think there a few reasons for England reversing the ball earlier than others though. They start bowling cross seam far earlier than other sides (Broad has been doing it in his first over); they throw the ball in to the stumps on the bounce far more often than other sides, which is what seemed to annoy Dar in the game on Thursday; the fact that Giles is their coach, a man who was part of the 2005 unit that was so adept at getting the ball reversing; the fact that Cook is one of the better shiners of a ball in cricket. With so many cameras around and the umps holding on to the ball at the end of the over it's just too difficult to get away with anything underhand, the penalties too great. Not saying it isn't tampering, but I'd be surprised. It all just feels a bit wrong though.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | June 15, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    Excellent article. Thank goodness for some sanity on this subject at last. There seems to be a ritual dance which the sport has to perform periodically on this issue where a 'revelation' is greeted with moral indignation, followed by pointless tinkering with the laws and everything then carries on much as before. The current law is clearly unenforceable and is therefore a bad law. Time to ask whether tampering really is that heinous a crime and whether a law aimed at banning only the most obvious abuses (bottle tops etc) would't be more effective.

  • POSTED BY Baseball-Sucks on | June 15, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    There are only 2 possible scenarios which could have happened here.

    1) The fielding team can request for a change of the ball and in this case it clearly didn't happen.In fact Mr. Cook was pretty furious about it.

    2) The umpires can change the ball if they notice that the integrity of the ball is compromised and that's what happened in this case. So the ball was somehow damaged here. But, how that ball was damaged is a real MYSTERY !!!

    English fielders kept throwing the ball to the keeper on the bounce , off the practice pitches from a distance of 20-30 yards. And the umpires were seen advising the fielders not to do so. And it happened quite a few times. And finally they changed the ball. Do we really need more evidence ?????

    And I know one thing for sure that SL batsmen did not ask the umpires to change of the ball. lol

  • POSTED BY PanGlupek on | June 15, 2013, 21:20 GMT

    @Jonny Wilkins; Exactly, as the article suggests, it seems like England just know how to reverse a ball rather than foul play.

    If there is TV/umpire/ICC/fan evience to suggest England are doing anything illegal, they could/should/will be punished.

    If there's not, perhaps Sky should re-assess Bob Willis' role as "agent provocatuer".

  • POSTED BY ARad on | June 15, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    I am glad that we are finally having proper arguments based on publicly available evidence to evaluate such claims about teams. Kudos to David Hopps for not taking the same route that has been taken by past (English) journalists when other teams (or not-really-English players such as KP) were similarly accused via rumours. Please provide the evidence to the public instead of expecting us to judge your own verdict without evidence unless you (un)wittingly want to be part of those who leak things via press to affect the public opinion. (When you do so, you become part of the problem and your journalistic integrity is diminished in the eyes of discerning public.) Thanks again for proper journalism!

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    All forms of messing with the ball should be banned. Bowling advantage should be left to the skills of the bowlers rather than crafty alterations to the ball.

  • POSTED BY Teachers on | June 15, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    If England legitimately benefit from polishing one side of the ball I do not see why other nations cannot do the same. There are two skills at play here, polishing the ball and obtaining reverse swing, and both skills have to come together for the desired result. Even if Australia learn how to polish the ball, they still have to learn how to reverse swing, so let's stop pointing the finger at England and start learning their skills instead.