Cricket: Underhand tricks were rife for years: For all the recent controversy, ball-tampering is by no means new. Hugh Bateson offers a brief history

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE seamy side of the bowling arts has been headline news only since the Pakistan tour to England in the summer of 1992, but has been in existence almost as long as the game itself.

Test bowlers like Imran Khan and Derek Pringle have admitted using methods outside the letter of Law 42 (5). 'If you consider picking the seam, applying lip salve or other substances such as Vaseline to be illegal, then most bowlers are guilty,' Pringle wrote in the Independent on Sunday.

'All I was admitting to was something that was common practice on the county and international circuit, and may still be, and nobody, including the umpires considered it unlawful,' Imran Khan wrote in the Daily Telegraph in the aftermath of his revelations in a book that he had used a bottle top to tamper with a ball in a county game in 1981.

Ball tampering really attracted public interest on the acrimonious Pakistan tour of England in 1992, during which the umpires changed a ball during a one-day international at Lord's. But even though the third umpire, Don Oslear, said that the ball had been changed under Law 42 (5), which governs ball tampering, the Test and County Cricket Board never confirmed that and locked the ball away.

Since then, the issue was stoked up in the High Court when the former Pakistan opening bowler Sarfraz Nawaz unsuccessfully sued Allan Lamb, the former England batsman, for accusing him of teaching Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis how to doctor the ball.

Relations between the two nations are still so fraught that although Pakistan are due to visit England for a three-Test tour in 1996 there are no plans for England to tour there for at least eight winters.

This is not the first time that an England captain has become embroiled either. In 1991, the umpire John Holder warned Graham Gooch that he felt the ball had been tampered with in the final Test against the West Indies at The Oval. The ball was not changed.

In county cricket, Surrey, the county Waqar Younis plays for, were fined pounds 1,000 at the end of the 1992 season. And in 1985 a ball was changed, by the umpire John Hampshire, in the tour match between Essex and Australia.

There are two main types of ball doctoring practised. In this country the emphasis is on shining the ball, while in harder conditions overseas the secret is in changing the aerodynamics of the ball by gouging and soaking to achieve reverse swing.