A gripping 3rd session of the 3rd Test of Sunfoil Series between two fierce cricketing forces was going on. South Africa fought back hardly in the second test to level the series 1-1 after handing the first game to Australia. Both teams were looking balanced on the third day of the third test at the picturesque Newlands in Cape Town. Probably the best batsman of the current generation- AB de Villiers was stealing the show with his excellent striking abilities. Umpires were constantly checking whether the light is bright enough to continue the day’s play. Suddenly the cameraman stopped his camera on the rookie Cameron Bancroft. The broadcasters were also showing the man on the big screen installed at one of the stands of the ground. Commentators and cricket fans were not ready to believe what they were witnessing. Cameron Bancroft was rubbing a yellow strip on the red cherry. Yes! He was tampering the ball. He was artificially changing the condition of the ball. Later in the day, it was revealed that it was planned by the leadership group surprisingly consist of only Steve Smith, David Warner & Cameron Bancroft. Let’s have a look, what actually the ball tampering is & let’s turn some pages of history of cricket to look some instances of ball tampering. We will also look at sanctions handed by International Cricket Council (ICC) to these players.
What is Ball Tempering?
According to the Article 41.3.2 of ICC Rules for players, “It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the condition of the ball”.
But why it is needed to change the actual condition of the ball?
Reverse swing is the biggest asset for a fast bowler. There has been some fiery fast bowlers in the history of cricket who are known to create havoc in the best of batsmen in the world with the help of art of reverse swing. Reverse swing is not an easy art and it need a lot of skill and practice. It is not easy to get reverse swing with the new shiny ball & hence the ICC allows to rub the ball with stuffs like clothes and towels.
Is the ball tampering new in cricket?
No! The first recorded instance of ball tampering was done by South African player Michael Atherton way back in 1994. Since then this is done time to time by players like Waqar Younis, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Shahid Afridi & Faf du Plessis.
All of them were released after a cut off of 50% of their match fee or a maximum ban of a couple of matches. Now the question is, if ball tampering is not new to the cricketing fraternity, then why the trio of Steve Smith, David Warner & Cameron Bancroft is facing very harsh reactions from all over the corner of cricketing world?
This is the first known instance when the ball tampering was done with planning. The Aussie skipper Steve Smith, Vice-Captain, David Warner & Rookie Cameron Bancroft were charged by the ICC according to its rules and regulations. Steve Smith was handed one match suspension with 100% cut off of his match fee & Bancroft was slapped with a cut off of 50% of his match fee. A couple of days after ICC’s verdict, Cricket Australia slammed the trio harder, handed one year suspension to Smith & Warner with sacking them from captaincy for a couple of years. The ICC also handed 9 months suspension to Bancroft.
This incident was certainly against the spirit of the game and the players involved in it go the punishment by ICC. But, let’s not forget about the effort they put in to reach the highest level. Let’s have a soft corner for them and accept them wholeheartedly. One mistake can’t define the whole personality. They are humans too.