Sports Letter: Rough and smooth

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Sir: The furore over the Atherton affair has tended to obscure what seems to be a curious anomaly in the rules - or lack of them - relating to tampering with the ball.

At any cricket match nowadays bowlers and members of the fielding side may be seen furiously polishing one side of the ball on their clothing to produce a shine which would otherwise have disappeared in the normal course of play. This is apparently within the rules and is accepted without question, except perhaps by those spectators who perceive it as a contributory factor to the slow over-rate.

Thus, it is quite in order to use artificial means to make one side of the ball smoother, but totally unacceptable to make the other side rougher.

It will no doubt be argued that there is a difference but, since the intention is broadly the same, where should one draw the line?




29 July