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Is it Ball Manipulation or Ball Tampering?
by Gulu Ezekiel
Sep 11, 2006
Former India Test opening bowler Atul Wassan has admitted during a TV show that he and other Indian bowlers had tampered with the ball during their playing careers.

Speaking last week on Zee Sports '22 Yards' programme, Wassan responding to a direct query from anchor Gaurav Gala categorically stated: "Sure, we [Indian bowlers] have picked the seam, we have lifted the seam with our finger nails. We have put some sort of cream to glaze the ball.

This is pushing the envelope of the law. But using bottle caps and other items to tamper with the ball is pushing things too far."

Wassan said the act should be referred to as "ball manipulation" rather than 'ball tampering' and felt the ICC should define the degrees of 'ball manipulation' just as it has defined the degrees of chucking. "After all, it has been going on for over 125 years of Test cricket.

It may be recalled that Manoj Prabhakar faced such accusations during India?s 1990 tour of New Zealand (where Wassan also played) and also when South Africa visited India for the first time for an ODI series in late 1991.

Meanwhile, speaking from Christchurch, New Zealand fast bowling legend Sir Richard Hadlee has also weighed in with his opinion. Back in 1995, Sir Richard had been quoted as being in favour of legalising tampering.

Clarifying his stand, Sir Richard says that earlier comment of his was said "tongue-in-cheek".

That comment was based around the fact that it was difficult for umpires to monitor consistently so why not legalise it provided players used what was natural on their body to make it fair and consistent for everyone? That theory excluded bottle tops, knives, scissors etc. My feeling then was it would develop new bowling skills, batsmen would need to combat the vagrancies of what the ball would do and it would create a new spectacle in the game.

The point now is that the law is specific and players cannot change the natural state of the ball and if they do they are penalised. Unless the law is changed players must respect the principle of fair play.

In another sensational disclosure, a freelance cameraman has revealed to this writer that the Australian bowlers were caught using a unique method to pick the seam during their tour of Bangladesh earlier this year.

The person who does not want his identity revealed for obvious reasons told me: "One of their top bowlers would spike the ball as he used his heel to pick it up off the ground. He confronted us and jokingly warned us from revealing the tapes to the Match Referee".
 
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