"We'll give every team one thing that'll help them swing the ball" - Ian Chappell's radical solution to stop ball-tampering

Cameron Bancroft during the Newlands Test against South Africa in 2018.
Cameron Bancroft during the Newlands Test against South Africa in 2018.

Ian Chappell has proposed a radical solution to the recurring ball-tampering controversies. The former Australian captain suggested legalizing one substance to help the bowlers swing the ball to dissuade them from using illegal items like sandpaper and bottle caps.

Ball-tampering has been in the news once again after Cameron Bancroft hinted at the involvement of Australian bowlers in the sandpaper incident in the infamous 2018 Cape Town Test. While the Aussie bowlers have outright denied the claims, Cricket Australia (CA) has remained silent after expressing their desire to reopen the case.

However, many from the cricket fraternity have come out to claim that subtle ball-tampering was prevalent even before 2018 and would remain so in the future as well. Ian Chappell feels this could be precluded by asking players what they need to maintain the shine and giving them "something in return".

"I think about 20 years ago, I said what they should do is go to the captains of every country and you get a list of things that they think will help the ball swing. Then you send us all these lists, we'll go through them and we'll come up with one thing and it will be a sensible thing, not using a bottle cap to scrape the ball. It'll be viable but we'll give you one thing that'll help you swing the ball and everything else will be illegal. Maybe I am naive but think if you did, you might stop all the other shenanigans because you give them something in return," Ian Chappell said on ESPNcricinfo.

Ian Chappell also observed that controversies like ball-tampering, body-line (the 1930s), underarm ball (Trevor Chappell, 1981) only arise because the game is heavily tilted in the favor of the batsmen.

"Let's look at the way the laws are written. They are pretty much always written in favor of the batsman and if you go right back to underarm bowling to sidearm bowling... to body line and ball-tampering - they all come about because the balance is too much in favor of the batsmen and the bowlers say 'We have had enough, we are mad as hell and we are going to do something about it'," he added.

"I don't think the ball-tampering saga is going to die" - Ian Chappell

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell

Ian Chappell also argued that the whole issue of ball-tampering won't wither away easily. He quoted David Warner's manager in putting forward his point that the possibility of the opener releasing a post-retirement book with the "whole truth" won't let the issue die anytime soon.

"There have been a few suggestions that when David Warner retires, he's going to write a book and tell the 'whole truth and nothing but the truth' and with that sort of hanging in the air, I don't think there's any way this thing is going to die," Ian Chappell concluded.

Hair gel, sweets, mint, lip bam, bottle caps and cough lozenge are some of the things used in the past to tamper with the ball. And those accused are not short of esteemed names - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, James Anderson and Waqar Younis among others.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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