Sport Cricket Casting the first stone: The ‘unseamly’ history of ball-tampering

Casting the first stone: The ‘unseamly’ history of ball-tampering

history of ball tampering
Mike Atherton said he had used dirt "to keep my hands and the ball dry". Photo: Getty
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While most of the cricketing world is digging in to a huge helping of schadenfreude over the Australian ball-tampering scandal, many of the cricketing nations that are gloating have not been without sin themselves.

Here are some of the higher-profile examples from recent years.

Mike Atherton – England v South Africa, 1994

England captain Mike Atherton was accused of ball-tampering during the first Test against South Africa in 1994.

TV pictures appeared to show Atherton applying dirt to the ball, which the batsman countered was only “to keep my hands and the ball dry”.

He maintained he was trying to maintain the condition of the ball, rather than the illegal act of altering its condition.

Atherton was fined £2000 ($3680) for the breach.

Sachin Tendulkar – South Africa v India, 2001

India’s ‘Little Master’ Sachin Tendulkar was seen removing a piece of grass from the ball during the second Test against South Africa in 2001 and was given a one-match ban by match referee and former England manager Mike Denness.

sachin tendulkar ball tampering
Sachin Tendulkar during the second Test against South Africa. Photo: AAP

But the International Cricket Council (ICC) ultimately decided that Tendulkar’s handiwork constituted cleaning the ball without the umpire’s permission, rather than ball-tampering. It consequently overturned the ban.

Despite the ban being overturned, the Indian Cricket Board refused to accept the appointment of Denness as match referee for the third Test. While the third Test took place, the ICB stripped it of official status.

Inzamam-ul-Haq – England v Pakistan,  2006

Pakistan refused to take to the field after tea on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England after umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove accused the Pakistanis of ball-tampering.

Earlier, the umpires awarded five penalty runs to England and offered it a replacement ball, but after Pakistan’s boycott of the match, they called the game off and awarded England the win via forfeiture.

pakistan ball tampering Oval 2006
Inzamam-ul-Haq leads his team off the ground at The Oval in 2006. Photo: AAP

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was cleared of the ball-tampering charge by an ICC tribunal, but was banned for four matches for bringing the game into disrepute.

Faf du Plessis – South Africa v Pakistan, 2013

In the 2013 series against Pakistan in Dubai, Faf du Plessis was found guilty of ball-tampering after rubbing the ball on the zipper of his trousers.

Du Plessis pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined 50 per cent of his match fee. Umpires also awarded Pakistan a five-run penalty.

Faf du Plessis – Australia v South Africa, 2016

Three years later, the South Africa captain fell foul of the rules again. Du Plessis was caught on camera sucking on mints and using his saliva to shine the ball during the second Test against Australia in Hobart.

Du Plessis was fined 100 per cent of his match fee and given three penalty points.

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