A possible solution to check ball tampering

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had a ‘Bowler alone may polish the ball’ rule for a brief period in the ’70s. And the idea did seem to work.

Cameron Bancroft and the Australian team have brought the ball-tampering issue to the fore.   -  AFP

Will instances of ball tampering reduce if the bowler alone is allowed to shine the ball?

In other words, bar other players from polishing the ball on their shirts or trousers, or handling the ball for any reason other than relaying it to the bowler.

Interestingly, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had such a rule for a brief period in the ’70s. And the idea did seem to work.

Remembering the rule, former India stumper Bharath Reddy said to Sportstar, “Yes, I recall that phase. The thought behind it was to prevent the ball from being tampered with.

“We don’t have cameras in the league so the best way for an umpire to have a close look at the ball when it is not in play is when it is with the bowler.”

Once the ball travelled to the ’keeper, or was struck to different parts of the ground, it would be quickly relayed to the bowler, who would then shine the ball.

Recalled Reddy, “Once, one of the cricketers was pulled up for shining the ball while fielding and he got away only because he said he was going to bowl the next over.”

Former India stumper Bharath Reddy still remembers the old rule.   -  M. Moorthy

 

Look at the scenario these days. If the ball goes to the ’keeper, it is passed on to someone in the slips, then thrown to point or gully, before being tossed to the fielder at cover or mid-off.

At each stage the ball is handled by the fielder concerned, he shines it, works on it, can potentially ‘rough’ it up.

Then it is thrown to the bowler once he reaches the top of his run-up.

It is through these ‘stages’ that teams hatching a conspiracy to alter the surface of the ball — there are ‘designated’ cricketers in specific positions — get much of the tampering done.

Given the number of television cameras in international cricket now, it would be hard for a bowler to scuff up the ball on his own.

And from the time, he has the ball in his hands, the cameras stay focused on the bowler.

Former India swing bowler, Balwinder Sandhu told this publication, “This can bring down instances of tampering, but will also make the bowler tired. He has to do all the polishing on his own.”

There is also a feeling that since cricket is a team game, the ball being managed by several cricketers before it is returned to the bowler, conveys a sense of togetherness.

But then, the ‘bowler only’ idea does have its advantages. It could drastically reduce instances of tampering with the ball.

And teams would also be able to get through their overs quickly.