Draw­ing a line on ball tam­per­ing

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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