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Legality Of Ball Tampering in Cricket Being Considered In The Wake Of COVID-19

  • April 24, 2020
  • by anubhav
  • 0
Legality Of Ball Tampering in Cricket Being Considered In The Wake Of COVID-19

Highlights:

  • Ball tampering may soon be legalised
  • This comes as authorities wish to end the use of saliva
  • An artificial substance may be used

The novel Coronavirus may be a force which is so powerful that it has brought the world to its knees. All the sporting events all around the globe have been stopped however, the authorities are using this time for good. In Cricket, the authorities are considering the possibility and application of allowing the use of artificial substances to police the “Red Ball” but under the supervisions of the “Umpires” in the long format matches so that the use of saliva by players could be ended.

The problem posed by the use of saliva to police the ball is understood to be amongst the things which were raised by the medical committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) which should be addressed before the game resumes. This means that in order for this to become an actual rule, lateral thinking will be required to allow bowlers and the teams to continue finding the effective ways to shine the ball to encourage reverse and conventional swings.

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The decision makers understand the gravity and know that polishing of the ball is needed to enable a fair balance in the contest between the bat and ball beyond the early overs of an innings. Hence, they are open to option of allowing for the use of artificial substances to polish the ball but under the supervision of umpires – the same way they currently allow the ball to be cleaned by the players.

This, when and if implemented, will allow ball tempering to be a legal phenomenon.

Such a move will most likely need flexibility when we talk about the substance which will depend on the ball that is being used. Kookaburra, SB Balls, and Dukes are all likely to respond fairly well to slightly different substances such as leather moisturiser, show polish or wax.

Not just this but also flexibility would be needed in terms of being allowed al all levels of the game, in order to prevent players at the entry-level from sharing a ball that has been lathered in saliva.

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The Current Law

41.3 The match ball – changing its condition

41.3.1 The umpires shall make frequent and irregular inspections of the ball. In addition, they shall immediately inspect the ball if they suspect anyone of attempting to change the condition of the ball, except as permitted in 41.3.2

41.3.2 It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the condition of the ball. Except in carrying out his/her normal duties, a batsman is not allowed to wilfully damage the ball. See also Law 5.5 (Damage to the ball).

A fielder may, however

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41.3.2.1 polish the ball on his/her clothing provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time.

41.3.2.2 remove mud from the ball under the supervision of an umpire.

41.3.2.3 dry a wet ball on a piece of cloth that has been approved by the umpires.

41.3.3 The umpires shall consider the condition of the ball to have been unfairly changed if any action by any player does not comply with the conditions in 41.3.2.

When the question of the issue of using saliva to shine the ball, the Australian fast bowlers, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, adamantly, said that it would make life intolerable for the bowlers if they did not have any means of shining the ball in order to make the sideways movement in Test Cricket.

Hazlewood said, “I think the white ball would be fine, [but] Test cricket would be very hard,” and added that the “Bowlers rely on any sort of sideways movement in the air,”.

He also said that “If you didn’t maintain the ball at all for 80 overs it would be quite easy to bat after that initial shine has gone. Whether you use saliva or sweat, maybe one person can do it. I’m not sure. It’s something that will have to be talked about when we get back out there and hopefully come up with a solution.”

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Jason Gillespie, former Test pacer and the current coach, said, tapping into a wider issue, the fabt that while the use of saliva isn’t Cricket’s more hygienic elements “I don’t think anything is off the table,”. He added, “It could be a point where at the end of each over, the umpires allow the players to shine the ball in front of them but you can only do it then. I don’t have an answer to that but it certainly will be a conversation that will be had. If you think about it, it is pretty gross.”

Despite the stigma of ball tampering, there has been a hidden story of the use of artificial substances to help both grip and polish the ball, in addition to the well documented recent use of sugar from mints or lollies in combination with saliva.

In the early part of the 20th century, even the resin could be seen commonly used by the bowlers to help them polish and gip the ball better.

Wrist Spin Bowler, Arthur Mailer, in his Autobiography, wrote, “Although it was against the law, I must break down and confess that I always carried powdered resin in my pocket.” Its use was not explicitly banned from cricket in Australia until 1931, with the allrounder Monty Noble once commenting on English objections that “if they don’t use it, they are very foolish”.

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Recently, Dennis Lillee has openly recounted how he used Lanolin – a type of wool wax – to help shine the ball after it had been applied to his woollen playing shirts or sweaters. He said, “Most fast bowlers used something to help shine the ball; there’s no doubt about that,” Lillee wrote in his autobiography, Menace. “I used spit and perspiration from my oily skin and I discovered that if I wore a pure wool jumper which contained lanolin and rubbed the ball on the jumper, it really glossed up.”

The two major groups are likely to discuss the issue before the ICC Cricket Committee before the games resume, which are scheduled to meet via videoconferencing in late May or early June.

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Dr Peter Harcourt, Head of ICC’s Medial Committee said, “The situation is rapidly evolving and full of significant risk as there is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 which can make decision making difficult. The ICC Medical Committee is working with Member medical representatives to build a comprehensive picture of the issues cricket is facing,”.

He added, ‘Our next step is to create a roadmap for the resumption of international cricket which will include criteria for decision making and a checklist for what needs to happen. This will consider everything from player preparation to government restrictions and advisories and bio-bubbles.”

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