Ball tampering allegations

Following Surrey’s alledged ball-tampering escapades, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire[1] are in the ball-tampering news today too. Somewhat depressing that I should celebrate my 500th post here with the evils of ball tampering, but it’s noteworthy and important to write about nonetheless.

Glamorgan – who like Surrey are having a pathetic season so far – coach Derrick alledged Gloucester bowler Steve Kirby “pursued a boundary into the car park at Sophia Gardens and scraped the ball on the hard surface, altering its condition to suit swing bowling.”

So, I guess, Derrick must have seen Kirby do this. Usual story – everyone’s backing eachother’s coach and captain and player, but it’s worrying that it’s happening at all. The Surrey incident is more pressing, if only because fingernails have been used – although I’d have thought concrete could do more hard than grubby old fingernails.

So the ECB are under pressure to fine Surrey – and I hope they do. It might even kick their season into touch, if it’s not already – disasterous season, isn’t it brilliant?

Despite all this, Derek Pringle aims to shed a warmer glow on the devilish occupations of ball tampering, arguing:

What they are actually about is another spat in cricket’s oldest rivalry – that between bowler and batsman.

And it’s a bloody good read. Hell – why am I so against ball tampering? I hate batsmen and their lazy, fashionista, always-fielding-at-slip ways. Bowlers around the world – pick your seams and gel your hair!

Jesting aside, and taking into consideration that Pringle is himself a bowler, he makes valid points – some of which nicely link back to our batting v bowling argument:

According to Smith, one bowler used an emery board strapped to a plaster on his non-bowling hand. Certainly, objects such as bottle-tops, nail files and penknives have been used in the past. Law 42.2, which deals with the match ball and changing its condition, should be more laissez faire, though only fingers rather than tools should be allowed to roughen and pick at the ball.

If that sounds too liberal, remember that batsmen have long been the recipients of every advantage going. Covered pitches, lightweight helmets and body armour, big bats that pick up like feathers, shrinking boundaries, have all been brought in to keep bowlers from planting their flag at the top of the hill.

Even as a bowler, I don’t think I can cross over to Pringle’s liberal stance. I know “ball doctoring” is as old as the hills, but there’s something clandestine about affecting the ball’s shape. Could it be said, though, that we are entering an era of bat-tampering, too? :)

Thoughts, disagreements etc all welcome. Have you ever picked the seam or “bottle-topped”?

[1] Some Americans pronounce this: “Glue Cester Shire” – which always makes me smile when I write it. You can imagine what happens with poor old Worcestershire (“Warrr cessterrr shire”)

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