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14 major incidents of ball-tampering in cricket history
Sri Lanka tour of West Indies

14 major incidents of ball-tampering in cricket history

The Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal has become the latest player to be sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his role in ball-tampering. Chandimal was found guilty of altering the condition of the ball in the second Test between Windies and Sri Lanka that ended as draw in Saint Lucia on Monday. It is seventh time in this decade and third in the space of eight months that a player has been punished by the ICC for being involved in ball tampering. Cricingif takes a look at the major ball-tampering incidents that rocked cricket over the years.

Michael Atherton, Lord’s, 1994

The former England captain Michael Atherton was the first to receive a punishment due to ball-tampering but it came from his home board rather than the ICC. Atherton was fined 2000 GBP for “dirt in the pocket” affair during a Test against South Africa at Lord’s in 1994. Television pictures showed him taking a substance from his pocket and applying to the ball but Atherton suggested he used dirt to dry his hands. He had not informed the match referee Peter Burge that he was carrying dirt in his pocket. The former captain was cleared of wrongdoing.

Waqar Younis and Azhar Mahmood, Colombo, 2000

The former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis became the first player to receive a ban for ball-tampering when the match referee John Reid established that he along with fellow-seamer Azhar Mahmood was guilty of scratching the seam in the ODI tri-series match against South Africa in Colombo in 2000. Waqar was banned for one match and fined 50% of his match fees whereas Azhar was fined 30%. In addition to that, the then Pakistan captain Moin Khan was reprimanded for allowing the spirit of the game to be impaired.

Sachin Tendulkar, Port Elizabeth, 2001

The Indian batting maestro found himself at the centre of controversy when he was accused of tampering with the ball and handed a suspended one-match ban by the match referee Mike Denness during the second Test against South Africa in 2001. Tendulkar maintained that he was cleaning the seam of the ball but, since it was done without informing the umpires, the referee adjudged that the condition of the ball was being altered. BCCI appealed against the decision and after thorough investigation ICC declared Tendulkar not guilty of ball-tampering.

The BCCI and United Cricket Board of South Africa both asked ICC to remove Denness from officiating the third Test but ICC didn’t back down and sided with its referee. ICC declared the third Test “unofficial” and did not include its result and statistics in Test match records.

Shoaib Akhtar, Harare, 2002

The Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar was severely reprimanded for tampering with the ball by the Match Referee Clive Lloyd after the first Test against Zimbabwe in November in 2002. The match officials unanimously ascertained that the fast bowler illegally changed the shape of the ball. “The umpires and I inspected the ball, and it was clear to us that it had been scratched,” Lloyd was quoted by Reuters. “We have severely reprimanded him.”

Shoaib Akhtar, Dambulla, 2003

Seven months after receiving a severe reprimand, Shoaib was was suspended from two ODIs and fined 75% of his match fees after the television cameras found him scratching the surface of the ball in an ODI tri-series match against New Zealand in Dambulla in 2003. Shoaib in his autobiography Controversially Yours published in 2011 wrote that almost all Pakistani fast bowlers tampered with the ball and he maybe the first to openly admit it.

Rahul Dravid, Brisbane, 2004

The former India captain Rahul Dravid was fined 50% of his match fees for rubbing a cough lozenge, a medicated candy, on one side of the ball in an ODI tri-series match against Zimbabwe in Brisbane. Although Dravid and Team India argued that the action was accidental as the candy fell from Dravid’s mouth, the match referee Clive Lloyd was convinced that the ball-tampering action was deliberate. No other Indian player has been found guilty of ball-tampering since then.

Pakistan Team, The Oval, 2006

Cricket was hit by a massive controversy when the umpires Darrel Hair and Billy Doctrove ruled that Pakistan team, led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, was involved in ball-tamper on the fourth day of the last Test against England at The Oval in 2006. Hair awarded five runs penalty to England and offered a replacement ball. But the worst was yet to come. Pakistan in protest at the decision decided against taking the field after the tea break and came on the ground 55 minutes after they were supposed to resume play but by that time the umpires had decided that it was a forfeiture and awarded England a win. It was first time in 129 years Test history that a match was forfeited.

A month later, ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle acquitted Inzamam of the ball tampering charge but banned him from four ODIs for bringing the game into disrepute by not taking the field after the tea break. As a result, Inzamam missed the ICC Champions Trophy 2006 in India.

Shahid Afridi, Perth, 2010

Desperate to win the last ODI of the series after losing every match on the tour (three Tests and four ODIs), the Pakistan stand-in captain Shahid Afridi chewed the ball before handing it to the bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, a great exponent of reverse-swing, in Perth in 2010. It did not help as Pakistan lost the series 5-0 and the T20 captain was caught biting the ball by TV cameras. He was subsequently banned for two T20 Internationals for altering the shape of the ball.

Afridi admitted the charge and the fact that he was desperate to win the match. He also said that there is no team in the world that doesn’t tamper with the ball but his method was wrong and he was embarrassed. He missed the one-off T20I on the tour and one from the two-match T20 series against England in Dubai. In his absence, Shoaib Malik led Pakistan in three T20Is. Afridi returned as captain for the ICC World T20 in West Indies in the same year.

Faf du Plessis, Dubai, 2013

The first of the three consecutive ball-tampering episodes from South Africa came when Faf du Plessis was caught rubbing the ball against the zipper of the trousers during the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai International Stadium in 2013. Du Plessis was fined 50% of his match fees but the match referee David Boon also said that his action was not part of a deliberate attempt. Pakistan, who were bowled out for 99 in the first innings with five wickets going to the spinner Imran Tahir, believed that it was reverse-swing that played a part in the batting collapse on the first morning. It was also only the second occasion in international cricket, first being The Oval 2006, where a team was handed 5 runs penalty for changing the condition of the ball.

Vernon Philander, Galle, 2014

The South Africa seamer was charged and fined 75% of his match fees after he was seen scratching the ball with his fingers and thumb in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2014. The footage was not aired but seen by the match officials at the end of the third day’s play. It was the day on which South Africa attained fair amount of reverse-swing helping Dale Steyn to bag 5 wickets. Philander did not appeal against the decision and accepted the punishment. Interestingly, the footage was aired to general public on the last day of the Test.

Faf du Plessis, Hobart, 2016

Faf du Plessis was found guilty of changing the condition of the ball and fined 100% of his match fees when the television footage showed that he used saliva from a mint or lolly to tamper with the ball in the second Test against Australia in Hobart in 2016. Even though he was only fined, he risked a bigger punishment when he appealed against the decision. He lost the appeal as the decision was upheld by the ICC’s independent commissioner Michael Beloff QC. Du Plessis was only the second player - first being Shoaib Akhtar - to be sanctioned/reprimanded by ICC on two occasions for altering the condition of the ball.

Dasun Shanaka, Nagpur, 2017

The Sri Lanka all-rounder Dasun Shanaka was fined 75% of his match fees for engaging in ball-tampering in the second Test against India in Nagpur in November 2017. The video evidence established that Shanaka picked the seam of the ball to gain reverse-swing. He was the first ever player from Sri Lanka to be punished by ICC for playing a role in ball-tampering. Shanaka accepted the punishment and didn’t contest the charge.

Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, Cape Town, 2018

Cricketing world was shaken when three Australian cricketers – the captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and the rookie Cameron Bancroft - admitted they played a role in changing the condition of the ball during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town. The investigations found that Bancroft was encouraged by Warner and Smith to use a sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball. Even though his attempt was unsuccessful – neither umpires changed the ball nor did they award penalty runs, the ICC banned Smith for a Test for a conduct against spirit of the game and fined Bancroft 75% of his match fees for attempting to change the condition of the ball.

Warner did not receive any punishment from the ICC but he was banned to play for Australia and domestic cricket at home for one year by Cricket Australia as was Smith. CA also suspended Bancroft for nine months.

Dinesh Chandimal, Saint Lucia, 2018

The Sri Lanka captain is first in history to be suspended for a Test match for altering the condition of the ball. The players before him were either banned from limited overs internationals or suspended for a Test for going against the spirit of the game. The Match Referee Javagal Srinath based judgment on the fact that Chandimal was seen taking sweets from his pocket, putting in mouth and applying saliva to the ball. The punishment handed to him is the maximum for ball-tampering under ICC’s current code of conduct. In future, if approved by the ICC, the players involved in such incidents could face bigger bans than a Test or 2 limited-over internationals.

Chandimal along with coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and manager Asanka Gurusinha has also been charged for a level 3 offence for a conduct contrary to the spirit of the game. If proven guilty, the Sri Lankan captain could face a further ban of 4 Tests or 8 ODIs/T20Is (whichever comes first). Chandimal and company brought the game into disrepute when they stayed off the field for 2 hours on the third morning of the Test and took the field under protest. That happened after the umpires Ian Gould and Aleem Dar decided to change the ball and award a 5 penalty runs to Windies.