Rubbing it the wrong way – the most famous ball tampering incidents in cricket

Author : jaideep18

“We are not a team that scratches the ball” - AB de Villiers

The South African star vehemently protested the allegations of ball tampering against South Africa during Pakistan’s second innings on the third day during the 2nd Test in Dubai.

However, the footage of his team mate and the man in question, Faf du Plessis shining the ball on the chain of his flannel and subsequently pleading guilty to the wrongdoings has left AB red faced and in a spot of embarrassment.

Du Plessis isn’t the first one who has been caught in the act. Ball tampering isn’t a new thing in the world of cricket and has been one of those unresolved issues that has come back to haunt the game since the 1970s.

Let’s take a look at a few incidents of ball tampering that created quite a furore in the cricket world:

 John Kenneth Lever in 1976 – Shine it with Vaseline

John Kenneth Lever

John Kenneth Lever – first man accused of ball tampering

The famous “Vaseline” controversy. In 1976-77, John Lever, the English left-arm pacer ripped apart the Indian batting line up by picking up 7 wickets on his debut Test match. He swung the ball in to the right handed batsmen and created quite a few problems for the Indians.

However, the then Indian captain, Bishan Singh Bedi accused John Lever of “doctoring” the cricket ball to induce more swing. He alleged Lever of applying Vaseline to keep the shine on the cricket ball for a longer time.

Although Bedi’s accusations were rejected due to lack of evidence, but this went down into cricket history for being the first reported “ball tampering” incident.

Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in 1992 and 2000 – Scuffed with a cork


Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis – the two Ws were often accused of doctoring the ball

Pakistan and ball tampering has been synonymous since the advent of reverse swing. Sarfaraz Nawaz and Sikardar Bakht stunned the world with their new found weapon and Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis elevated it to an art form to devastate sides all around the globe.

However, their rise was met with suspicion. In 1992, Wasim Akram terrorized the English batsmen with his mastery with the old ball. He got the old ball to swing prodigiously leaving the England batsman clueless on their home ground.

Waqar Younis too, followed suit and along with Akram made life difficult for the English. However, the English press accused the Pakistani duo of ball tampering.  They accused them of using soft drink bottle caps to scuff up one side of the ball so as to induce reverse swing. Although the allegations gained a lot of strength in the media circle, no charges were pressed due to lack of conclusive evidence.

But in 2000, Waqar Younis was the first bowler who banned for ball tampering.  The Pakistani speedster was found guilty as footages showed him in the act of lifting the seam off the ball during an ODI against South Africa in Colombo. Along with Waqar, Pakistani captain Moin Khan and the talented all-rounder Azhar Mahmood were also hauled up but were only charged with 30% of their match fee each.

Michael Atherton in 1994Dirt in the Pocket!

England v South Africa, 1st Test, Lord's, Jul 94

Mike Atherton – Dirt in the Pocket, Mike?

The English make the most noise whenever anything goes wrong in the cricket world. However, in 1994, their own captain, Michael Artherton, was caught on the wrong foot. Artherton was accused of ball tampering during  a Test match with South Africa at Lords in 1994.

The television cameras caught the England captain reach into his pocket and then rubbing some dirt on the ball during the change of overs.

Artherton was hauled up by Peter Burge, the match referee at the end of day’s play and within 24 hours Artherton had to appear in a press conference to present his side of the story.

In front of the press, an irritated Atherton clearly denied tampering with the ball and claimed that he had dirt in his pocket to get the sweat off and dry his hands.

Sachin Tendulkar in 2001 – caught in a muddy seam!

Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar tosses

Sachin Tendulkar – Caught while cleaning the seam?

Even the maestro couldn’t escape this controversy. During India’s tour of South Africa in 2001, the match referee Mike Denness suspended Sachin Tendulkar for one game alleging him with ball tampering.

Although, television footages showed Tendulkar working on the seam of the ball, it was suggested that Tendulkar was only cleaning the mud on the seam and not trying to raise it. The match referee paid no heed to that explanation and suspended Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian team protested vehemently and threatened to pull out  of the tour if the decision was not reversed.

BCCI boycotted the third Test of the series and fielded a reserve team to play an “unofficial Test”.

Rahul Dravid in 2004 – Jammy stuck in jelly!


Rahul Dravid – too much jelly on the ball

Another Indian maestro who rubbed the cherry the wrong way. In January 2004, Rahul Dravid, the then Indian vice-captain was charged for ball tampering and was fined for rubbing a half-eaten lolly on one side of the ball during an ODI against Zimbabwe in Australia.

The footages showed Dravid shining one side of the ball with his saliva and then peeling off a jelly like substance from the ball. The match referee Clive Lloyd adjudged it to a deliberate offence and fined the Indian vice-captain. Rahul Dravid, however, denied the allegations and said that he had no intent of doctoring the ball.

Shahid Afridi in 2010 – Biting into it!


Shahid Afridi – Wants a bite of everything!

This was perhaps the craziest of the lot and who else but Shahid Afridi was in the centre of it all. In 2010, Shahid Afridi was charged with ball tampering after he was caught biting the ball after the ball was changed by the umpires.

Afridi, who was leading Pakistan in the absence of Mohammad Yousuf, later admitted to the offence and said that  “I shouldn’t have done it. It just happened.” 

However, not only did he plead guilty for his wrongdoing, but also admitted that ball tampering was a common practice among all teams.


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