Former England fast bowler Bob Willis has opened an old can of worms by alleging that the English bowlers may have been tampering with the ball. He made these claims after the umpires changed the ball while England were bowling against Sri Lanka in the game that they ended up losing last week. According to Willis, a player in the team had been ‘scratching’ the ball, which is against the rules of the game. Although nothing concrete has come out of the controversy yet, with the English players vehemently denying the charge, this is not the first time that the sport has been hit by ball tampering accusations. Here’s a look at the history of cricket and ball tampering allegations.
Pakistan tour of England 1992
In the 80’s, Pakistan fast bowlers like Sarfaraz Nawaz and Imran Khan had pioneered the art of reverse swing and by the early 90’s, they had perfected it. There were no surprises then that during the team’s 1992 tour of England, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis destroyed the hosts with some unbelievably skillful bowling. Pakistan went on to crush England 2-1 in the series. England, however, accused the touring side of cheating and tampering with the ball, which led to a lot of acrimony between the two sides.
Atherton’s ‘dirt in the pocket’ saga
In a Test match at Lord’s against South Africa back in 1994, then England captain Micheal Atherton was accused of using dirt of the ball. The television cameras clearly caught Atherton applying the dirt from his pocket on to the ball. Atherton denied the ball tampering allegations, making the excuse that the dirt in the pocket was only for him to dry his hands. However, the match referee wasn’t convinced and fined the England captain for his misdemeanour.
What, Sachin Tendulkar?
Hard to believe, but it is a known fact that even the legend has been accused of altering the condition of the ball. During the controversial Port Elizabeth Test on India’s disastrous tour of South Africa in 2001, match referee Mike Denness handed over a one-match suspension to Tendulkar, feeling he had tampered with the ball. Television cameras showed Tendulkar doing what allegedly seemed like scuffing the seam of the ball. Till date, opinions are divided over whether Tendulkar did something illegal with the cherry. As expected, the ban led to a huge uproar in India, with the BCCI using its might to throw Denness out of the next Test.
Pakistan tour of England 2006
Another shocker. During The Oval Test, Pakistan refused to come back on to the field after tea on one of the days after the umpires in the match had awarded five runs to England, penalising Pakistan for allegedly tampering with the ball. The Pakistan team, led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, had a serious team meeting during the tea break and decided not to take the field in protest against the penalty handed over to them. The umpires warned them, but when the Pakistan players did not turn up, the Test was awarded to England by forfeiture.
--By A Cricket Analyst