ICC to consider legalising “ball tampering” amid COVID-19 pandemic

Is ICC planning to legalise ‘ball tampering’? Ball-tampering has been one of the major offences in cricket, which has invited heavy penalties in the past.

Created On: Apr 27, 2020 21:25 IST

The International Cricket Council is planning to allow ‘ball tampering’ in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, as the deadly virus is largely spread through respiratory droplets.

The ICC is planning to allow the bowlers to use artificial substance to shine the ball instead of using their saliva, a practice that was followed in cricket till now, as it could risk the spread of coronavirus.

The use of artificial substance to polish cricket balls will most likely e allowed under the supervision of umpires. The possibility will be discussed during the video conference of the ICC cricket committee, which is scheduled to be held in late May or early June.

Why do bowlers use saliva to polish cricket balls?

The bowlers use saliva to polish the ball on one side to make it reverse swing. The moistured gained from the saliva smoothens out one half of the ball, which allows air to pass over one side of the ball more quickly than the other half, enabling the bowler to move the ball from one side to the other in the reverse swing. This makes the contest fair between the bat and ball after the initial few overs when the ball gets older.

What is ball-tampering?

Ball-tampering is an action in which a player illegally alters the condition of the ball using any artificial substance such as lip balm or any other action such as rubbing it on the ground, scuffing its with sharp object or a fingernail or tampering with the seam of the ball.

What is the purpose of ball-tampering?

Ball-tampering is generally done to achieve more favourable bowling conditions. By using artificial substances or picking the seam of the ball or using any sharp object, the player can shine or roughen up one side of the ball ensuring easy reverse swing.

What happens when a ball is tampered?

When a ball is tampered, one side gets roughened and this makes it easier for the bowler to move the ball in the air, particularly on one side, which is called reverse swing. Reverse swings are generally hard to play for the batsmen.


Ball Tampering

What is allowed?

What is not allowed?

Under Law 41, subsection 3 of the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished using saliva, may be dried with a towel if it is wet and have mud removed from it under supervision.

All other actions are considered illegal such as using any artificial substance such as lip balm or rubbing the ball on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object, or tampering with its seam.


Most Controversial Ball-Tampering Incident

The 2018 ball-tampering row involving three Australian players including Captain Steve Smith and Vice-Captain David Warner has been one of the most controversial scandals in cricket so far.

In March 2018, during Australia’s third test against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town, Australian bowler Cameron Bancroft was caught by cameras trying to roughen up one side of the ball using sandpaper to make the ball swing in flight. Later it was revealed that both Vice-Captain David Warner and Steve Smith were aware of the action and the plan was formed before the play.

During Cricket Australia’s investigation into the incident, Warner was found to be responsible for the development of the plan, while Smith was found to have known of the plan but failed to take steps to prevent it and both the players were banned from all international and domestic cricket for a period of 12 months. Bancroft, who was found to be a party to the plan, received a nine-month suspension from all international and domestic cricket.

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann, who was though cleared of having any involvement in the row, resigned from his position following the imposition of the bans on the three players. He requested the people to give all the three players a second chance.

All the three players publicly apologised for the incident and Steve Smith and David Warner, who were among the world’s top batsmen before the ban, are slowly returning to their form and regaining their respect.

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