Amidst the emergence of ball-tampering allegations from various quarters, former Australia skipper Ian Chappell has presented a unique way to address the malaise. The forthright commentator asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to legalise one common method of tampering the ball.
In a column for ESPNCricinfo, the 73-year-old claimed that Faf du Plessis’ mint-gate incident could be turned into a ‘watershed moment’ and publicly urged ICC to allow players to alter the state of the ball intentionally.
Chappell wrote, “Like the capitulation, du Plessis' misdemeanour could prove to be a watershed moment. Like wrist-spin, the swinging delivery is crucial to Test cricket's viability as a competitive and entertaining sport. The risk-reward aspect of these two forms of bowling adds greatly to the anticipation and enjoyment of cricket fans. Both arts should be encouraged by selectors and law-makers.”
He added, “By making one method of ‘preparing the ball’ legal, there would also be less pressure on teams to try and outdo their opponents. There would also be less risk that one side would be caught while another got off scot-free. The greatest success on the field would then be achieved by the most skilful swing bowlers.”
The erudite cricketer alluded to a solution that he had presented a few years back. According to him, international captains, after consulting with their premier bowlers, should come up with a list containing all possible substances which enabled the ball to swing more. Then, the game’s governing body could zero in on a particular substance for players to use while altering the state of the ball.
Chappell explained, “A player using any other method of enhancement would face a ban, with severe consequences for straying. By compromising in this manner, the administrators would not only enhance the game but also simplify life for the officials at the ground and give the players an incentive to obey the law.”
Also Read: Ball Tampering – What’s all the fuss about?
As things stand at present, ICC rules and regulations stipulate that the usage of any artificial substance to shine the ball is deemed illegal. Any player involving in such a method intentionally will attract fines and even be docked runs as a penalty. Pertinently, after du Plessis had rubbed the ball on the side of his zipper in 2013, the apex body went on to ban the presence of zippers on trouser pockets.
The no-nonsense personality noted, “If international batsmen were to object to a proposal to legalise a ball-shining enhancement, it would be hypocritical. Firstly, many of the current laws and playing conditions favour batsmen over bowlers. Secondly, the majority of captains are batsmen and they are happy to condone their own players' questionable actions when the team is in the field.“
When du Plessis did what he thought was perceived to be standard practice, little did he know about the furore that a piece of mint could create. Seeing as Chappell is one of the most respected voices in the cricket community, it will be interesting to see how ICC choose to respond to his proposal and tackle the menace of ball-tampering.