Gentleness vanishing from Gentleman’s Game : Ball Tampering

By: Krutarth Vashi
The events that followed are perhaps by-heart to every person who follows cricket. An unruly behavior took place on the field, the one which breached the code conduct of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Spirit of the Game.

The ball-tampering saga – As it happened
1-0 down in 4 test match series against South Africa, Australian team arrived at Cape Town with series at stake. The Proteas took control of the game on day 3 and it seemed AB de Villiers was there to stay forever. Running out of all the options, a desperate time saw a desperate measure, and a ploy to tamper with the ball was hatched in between sessions to aid reverse swing. Australian opener Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera using a small yellow paper on the ball. The footage was being played over and again on the giant screen as a bewildered Darren Lehmann had to pass on a message to 12 th man Peter Handscomb through a walkie-takie to alert the players. Bancroft, on receiving the alert, hid the yellow tape, which was later found out to be a sand paper, in his pants. At the end of day’s play, captain Steve Smith admitted ball tampering at a press conference.

The aftermath
Immediate effect of the entire incident began with Steve Smith and David Warner being removed from captaincy duties. ICC slapped 1-match ban and 100% match fee cut for Steve Smith and 3 demerit points and 75% match fee cut for Cameron Bancroft. While all this happened on the field, the social media alleged and shammed the concerned players inside out. A day later, Cricket Australia hands Steve Smith and David Warner a 12-month ban while Cameron Bancroft was handed a 9-month ban. Subsequently Smith and Warner were barred by BCCI from competing in IPL starting from 7 th April. Steve Smith, in press conference, took full responsibility of his actions, breaking down multiple times during the speech.
Though the price paid by the concerned players is quite heavy, there is no denying to the fact that the spirit of the Game was compromised and the intentions of the players were of the order which would not have been termed as ‘Sporty.’ The game has seen many incidents in the past where some unruly behaviour on field caused a blot on the sportsmanship and Spirit of the Game.

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1. Body Line Ashes, 1932-33
Even though none of us were born when this infamous series took place, it is regarded as first of its kind event where negative tactics were employed by then the English skipper Douglas Jardine in the 1932-33 Ashes test match when England toured to Australia.
Known as the “Leg Bowling Theory”, the bowlers bowled ferocious bouncers, aimed at batsman’s chest and shoulder on the leg side which was packed with fielders waiting to gobble a catch coming towards them. The English bowling unit led by Harold Larwood targeted the Australian batsman by bowling short pitched balls one after the other injuring quite a few batsman in the process.

The legend Don Bradman was quoted saying, “Only one team was playing cricket!” England won the series 4-1, but the seeds of ill-will between two great cricketing nations were sown and the series continues to be the prime example of not playing the game in the Spirit.

2. Dennis Lillee kicking Javed Miandad, 1981
A verbal duel almost turned into a fist fight during a test match at Perth while Pakistan team was touring Australia in the summer of 1981. Javed Miandad took a single off Dennis Lillee’s bowling and while doing so bumped into Lillee at non-striker’s end. Mianded claimed that Lillee blocked him on his way while Lillee maintained that he accidentally bumped into Miandad. However, a verbal war was not enough; Lillee kicked Miandad on his pads, which enraged Miandad who wielded his bat like a sword at Lillee. The match officials and Australian captain, Greg Chappel, had to intervene to stop the fight. Dennis Lillee was fined A$ 200 for indecent behavior and Wisden described the event as ‘One of the most undignified incidents in Test History’


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3. Under arm ball, 1981
Another incident that concerned the Aussies, in an ODI against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand. The kiwis required 6 runs of the final ball to win the match, when Greg Chappel order his bowler and
brother, Trevor Chappel, to bowl an under arm ball. The delivery was legal back then but was seldom used by the bowlers as it was against the spirit of the game. Amidst the booing of the crowd, Trevor Chappel bowled a rolling ball to the batsman Brian McKechnie, who in no way could have hit that ball out of the park. McKechnie threw away the bat in disgust after tapping the ball, the entire episode received a lot of flak from the cricketing community and remains a dark chapter in the history of the game.

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4. Suraj Randiv’s Intentional No-Ball, 2010
India were on course to a comfortable win against Sri Lanka at Dambulla, all credits to an explosive
innings from Virender Serhwag, who took an all out attack on the Lankan bowlers. Sehwag was just one short of a well deserved 100 and India required 5 more runs to win in the 34 th over. The first ball of the over fired on the off stump line missed the batsman and the keeper and went on to the boundary as byes, leaving India just one run to win. Sehwag plummeted the 4 th ball over the long off boundary for a six and raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd. But little did he and the crowd realized that Suraj Randiv had bowled a huge no-ball, which meant India already had won the match before ball went past over the ropes.

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The replays suggested a huge over-stepping by Randiv, which on further investigation was asserted that it was a deliberate illegal delivery to deny Sehwag a century. Suraj Randiv was banned for 2 matches as the event witnessed a bizarre attempt to stop a batsman from a well-deserved milestone. All the incidents have marred the beautiful game that is followed with great passion and splendor across the globe. The sportspersons are adored by the fans and followers and one such incident is all it takes for all the adulation to sink down the drain. Cricket already lost significant followers when match-fixing scandal emerged in the late 90s. And it would continue to happen if the Gentleness vanishes from the Gentleman’s Game.

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