England is the oldest cricket playing nation in the world and the country played its first ever Test match, way back in 1877. Over the course of its long and complicated cricketing history, English cricket has been through its fair share of triumphs, disasters and plenty of controversies. At the same time, it is perhaps necessary to point out that, controversies and scandals are part and parcel of all cricketing nations and in that regard, England is no exception.
Starting from disputes between the different category of players to questionable tactics on the field and finally to dubious tours to a certain country, the English cricket establishment has had to weather storms of varying degrees of infamy. It is always tough to choose from such a wide range of controversies but here are the famous 5 that are always going to be associated with English cricket.
#5 Michael Atherton and ‘dirt in the pocket’
After England had been trounced at home by Pakistan back in 1992, there had been widespread allegations of ball-tampering on the Pakistani team and particularly on their irresistible swing kings, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. However, two years later, their captain Michael Atherton was caught trying to keep the ball dry by applying dirt that he had kept in his pocket during the course of a Test match against South Africa at Lord’s.
That was not the end of the controversy though. When Atherton was hauled up by the match referee Peter Burge and asked about the reason why he had kept dirt in his pocket, he stated that he had it so that he could keep his hands dry. A captain lying to the match referee is unprecedented, particularly when he had been caught in the act. It was a monumental controversy and one that must have been deeply embarrassing for the English cricket establishment. Atherton got away with a £2000 fine but it is an incident that is recalled to this day whenever a ball-tampering controversy erupts.