Should ball tampering be legal?
Thursday 20 Dec 2012 5:59 p.m.
The cricketing rule book labels ball tampering as cheating, but what if bowlers were allowed to do it?
The allegations against Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle have prompted former Aussie paceman Geoff Lawson to call for it to be made legal, so bowlers can compete against small boundaries and modern bats.
However former BlackCap Chris Pringle, who admits tampering during his career, says it's not necessary.
“The new ball doesn't have that rough side for the wind to suck onto and grab hold of it,” he says.
And Pringle knows as well as anyone that a roughed up old ball will swing. He admitted to doing it in the 1990s, following opponent Pakistan's lead, and he succeeded – taking 11 wickets in a test.
However he says tampering aids, but doesn't make a ball reverse swing – technique does.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, if a child, grownup or test cricketer swings the ball it is simply because of his wrist position.”
So, Pringle's at odds with Lawson's view, saying simply bowling can make a ball rough.
“The cricket pitch is the best piece of material to scratch because generally speaking it's dry and abrasive.”
The rule is quite simple – fielders can polish the ball, but not with an artificial substance, and can remove mud under the supervision of the umpire.
However they can't rub the ball on the ground, use any implement, or to take any other action whatsoever to alter the condition of the ball.
Two years ago Pakistan's Shahid Afridi was suspended for two games for biting the ball, but Siddle's actions on Saturday weren't deemed to have been illegal.
Australian captain Michael Clarke says his team knows the rules.
“I think we play very hard on the field. There's no doubt about it. We understand that there's a line that you cannot cross.”
BlackCap Doug Bracewell also wasn't punished in the West Indies this year, when umpire Paul Riffel saw no damage.
But Pringle says tampering is not as common as it used to be.
“I think there are just too many cameras and too many eyes on the players.”
If a man who tried tampering says it's not necessary, don't expect the ICC to take Lawson's advice too quickly.