According to the dictionary, ball tampering is an unlawful alteration of the surface or seam of a ball on the field, to affect its motion when bowled. It is basically when a fielder or the bowler illegally changes the condition of the ball in order to achieve favourable bowling conditions.
Legally, players can alter the conditions of the ball without the use of any artificial substance. This is the reason why we see players using their saliva or sweat and rub the ball to alter the conditions.
The fine for ball tampering on the field is a penalty of five runs and the change of the ball. However, the ICC imposes a stricter penalty off the field - a deduction of match fees of between 50 to 100 percent, and three demerit points.
A lot of teams have been involved in ball tampering over the years. Lets' take a look at few of these incidents:
Mike Atherton was caught rubbing dirt on the ball during a Test against South Africa in Lords. He said that he kept dirt in his pockets to keep his fingers dry. He avoided suspension but was fined 50 percent of his match fees.
The Pakistan cricket team was accused by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove of tampering the ball in a Test against England in 2006. England was awarded five extra runs due to the incident. The Pakistan side refused to take the field after the tea break and went on to forfeit the Test as well.
Shahid Afridi was caught biting the ball in order to change the condition during a T20I against Australia in Perth. He was eventually banned for two T20Is after the ICC found him guilty.
Faf du Plessis has been caught tampering the ball on two occasions. The first one was in 2014 when he was caught rubbing the ball on the zip of his trousers. He pleaded guilty and was fined 50 percent of his match fee. The second incident was in 2016 when he was caught rubbing the ball with saliva with a mint in his mouth. He was fined 100 percent of his match fee for this incident.
Rahul Dravid was caught rubbing a cough lozenge on the shiny side of the ball against Zimbabwe in 2004. He was found guilty and was charged 50 percent of his match fee by Clive Lloyd, who was the match referee.
Cameron Bancroft was caught rubbing the ball with a small piece of yellow sandpaper on the third day's play of the third Test against South Africa in 2017. He pleaded guilty to the incident along with captain Steve Smith.
Bancroft was fined 75 percent of his match fee and was docked three demerit points while Smith was fined 100 percent of his match fee and banned for one match.
Smith and Warner stepped down from their roles as captain and vice-captain respectively for the remainder of the third Test, which Australia ended up losing by 322 runs. Smith stepped down as the captain of the Rajasthan Royals as well, for the upcoming edition of the IPL.