Sports Letter: All polished off

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Sir: In view of the controversy caused by manipulations performed on the ball by Mike Atherton in the recent Test match, might it not be worthwhile considering the use of expert ball polishers to increase the swing of the ball, instead of amateur polishers such as Atherton appears to be? Such experts could receive special training in the art and could be played purely for their skill in this matter. They could alternatively be a 12th man, hiding inconspicuously behind the square leg umpire, ready to do his (or her) job at the end of each over. Or balls could be made in an asymmetric fashion, with one side treated with a harder and longer-lasting shine than the other. Thereafter, any polishing of the ball could be deemed to be illegal.

Come to think of it, a no-polishing rule might be best of all, so that we could discover which bowlers can naturally swing the ball.




29 July