Drawing a line on ball tampering
AS INTERNATIONAL cricket has become more competitive and lucrative, so the game has become corrupted in both subtle and more obvious ways.
The most important single factor is the wicket, prepared by the home team groundsmen to suit its bowlers.
This practice is now openly admitted in most honest journalism.
The other factor is the ball, which can be shone and tampered with to produce increased swing or spin.
Ball tampering, which is almost as old as the game itself, made headlines here in 1994 when the English captain, Mike Atherton, was accused of rubbing earth on the ball.
It dominated the recent series in Australia when Faf du Plessis, in the words of the MCC World Cricket Committee head, “flagrantly contravened the laws” on camera by the use of an artificial substance, namely mint.
It was disturbing that the Proteas unanimously supported their captain against the serious charge, one of them saying, not very logically, that the thing was a joke.
Du Plessis was duly found guilty, fined (but not suspended), and lost his appeal.
Arguments will continue about the boundary between legitimate shining of the ball (with spit) and the illegitimate use of artificial substances.