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5 times when cricketers were penalised for ball tampering

Shahid A
Shahid Afridi bites the ball

Sports is a great teacher. It gives you an opportunity to imbibe the qualities of discipline, teamwork, sacrifice, endurance, determination, and perseverance to name a few. Every sport is played with a set of rules and laws that govern the one's playing it, breaking which leads to punishment and penalty to teach a lesson for future.

In the heat of the battle and in a bid to win, sometimes players forget that they are not supposed to cross a certain line which they do by their unexpected behaviour or activities on or off the field. Such activities bring disgrace to the sport and it is important for the guilty to be penalised to avoid the occurrence of any such event in the future.

Ball tampering is one kind of offence on the cricket field in which the fielding team or a member of their team is accused of illegally trying to alter the condition of the ball. Under the laws of cricket, the only actions permitted on a ball are wiping a wet ball with a dry towel, polishing it for shine not using any artificial substance or removing mud from it only under umpire supervision.

Any other action on the ball in order to tamper with the seam or condition of it leads to a charge of ball tampering. Usually, fielding teams try altering the seam position of the ball to change its aerodynamics and achieve greater amount of reverse swing from it.

There have been numerous instances of such malicious activity on the part of bowlers and fielders which has been penalised by the ICC with the latest one coming to light in the ongoing South Africa-Australia test series.

Captain Steve Smith and opener Cameron Bancroft have pleaded guilty to tampering with the ball as the latter was caught rubbing a yellow sticker on the ball which has taken the name of the 'Sandpaper Gate'.


#1 Waqar Younis

Waqar was the best exponent of reverse swing in international cricket
Waqar was the best exponent of reverse swing in international cricket

In 2000, Pakistan were playing an ODI match of the trip series involving them, hosts Sri Lanka, and South Africa. Star Pakistan bowler Waqar Younis was caught on camera scuffing the side of the ball with his thumbnails and also scratching its seam.

Although the incident was missed by on-field umpires, match referee John Reid took note of Waqar's attempt of tampering with the ball. Having already warned the bowler for the same action in the recently concluded test series, Reid handed the 'King of Reverse Swing' a one-match ban and a penalty of fifty percent of his match fee.

Thus Younis, who ended up with 416 ODI and 373 Test wickets became the first man to be banned for ball tampering in cricket. Similar accusations were made on Waqar's teammate Azhar Mahmood who was let off with a warning and a thirty percent deduction in match fee.

#2 Michael Atherton

Atherton was reprimanded for bringing disgrace to the sport
Atherton was reprimanded for bringing disgrace to the sport

In a 1994 test match against South Africa, English captain Michael Atherton was charged with tampering with the physical condition of the ball after television cameras caught the skipper rubbing a substance on the ball.

In what became famous as the 'dirt in pocket' affair, Atherton was accused of pulling dirt substances out of his pocket and rubbing it on the ball. The incident was a disgrace to the national sport of England and more so because it occurred at the Mecca of Cricket - Lord's Stadium.

The man in question Atherton defended himself by saying that the dirt in his pocket was used for drying his hands and not ball tampering but the match referee accused him with the offence and he was charged a penalty of £2000.

#3 Shahid Afridi

Afridi's ball biting act attracted huge criticism
Afridi's ball biting act attracted huge criticism

Shahid Afridi has never been far from controversies. Whether it be with his multiple retirements and coming back from them or by passing unacceptable comments on fellow or opposition players or with the national cricket board of Pakistan, the man has dealt with a fair number of them throughout his cricket career.

In what can only be labelled as a bizarre turn of events, Afridi, Pakistan's most experienced limited overs cricketer, was caught biting the ball on camera before handing it to bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in a clear attempt to readjust the seam of the ball.

What was even more disgraceful was the fact that Afridi was the captain of the team in this T20I match against Australia played in January 2010. With the offence totally unacceptable, the skipper was penalised with a two-match ban apart from him being the punt of jokes and criticism from all corners of the cricketing fraternity.

#2 Pakistan cricket team

Pakistan is the only team to have forfeited a Test match
Pakistan is the only team to have forfeited a Test match

Pakistan and controversy are two rods that go hand in hand. Either of their players, coaches, ex-cricketers or board are often seen getting involved in some controversy or the other.

What happened in 2006, though was a one of its kind event. In the Oval test of the 2006 series against England, on-field umpires accused the Pakistan team of ball tampering and awarded the English team with five penalty runs apart from changing the ball.

Post the tea break on the fourth day, the Pakistan team did not take the field. Taking note of the incident, the two umpires directed Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq to resume play and the duo of Billy Doctrove and Darell Hair once again reached the pitch fifteen minutes later.

The umpires waited for the visitors to take the field for another two minutes, failing which they remove the bails and awarded the test match to England in accordance with the laws of cricket, claiming a Pakistan forfeiture.

Pakistan, who took the field 25 minutes later, protested the decision of the umpires, but to no avail. This was and remains the only instance of a test match forfeiture in the 141-year history of cricket.

#1 Faf du Plessis

du Plessis has been caught tampering the ball on more than one occasion
Du Plessis has been caught tampering the ball on more than one occasion

In a test in 2013, being played at Dubai between Pakistan and South Africa, Faf du Pleases was caught scuffing the ball with the zip on his trousers. The on-field umpires took action as they added five runs to Pakistan's total and also charged Du Plessis, who pleaded guilty to the offence, with 50 percent of his match fee.

However, the incident at Dubai did not prove to be a learning for the middle order batsman as he repeated the offence in the Hobart test against the Aussies in 2016. Faf, who was skipper of his team this time around, was caught applying saliva on the ball from a mint or sweet, considered as an artificial substance.

The South African captain was lucky to survive a match ban and got away with letting go off 100% of his match fee.

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Edited by Raunak J
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