Ball Tempering in Cricket: Punishments for Involving in Major Ball Tampering Incidents

Australian players recently found to involve in a ball tampering incident. Smith and Warner have been banned for one year while Bancroft banned for nine months by Cricket Australia; Lehman has resigned as a coach also. Media and Social Media are acting like this is an unreal event, but is it?

Ball tampering is not a new incident in Cricket. It happened lots of time before. There might be controversy on which one is the biggest ball tampering event. In cricket, we see usually cricketers are polishing ball in their dress. Sometimes we see they are even clearing the ball with a towel and other kinds of stuff. It might be confusing on which would be counted as ball tampering and which would not. By the definition polishing ball without any artificial materials and also clear mud on the ball and drying the ball with the concern or presence of Umpire are legal. Except for these cases, any kind of touch or scratch on the ball would be considered as illegal ball tampering.

Why players involve in ball tampering?

The obvious question on ball tampering is, “why players do it?”, “what are the benefits of ball tampering?”. The reason is to have the advantage of reverse swing. Usually, in reverse swing, the ball moves toward the dry side. So players try to add moisture on one side with sweat or spit. Now when balls are having scratches that ensures much more swing than expected. It brings a massive advantage for the bowling side.

History of Ball Tampering and Punishment

Ball tampering is not a new issue in cricket. It’s an old manipulation method. It has been done lots of time before and it assumes only a few of them have caught. Especially in a current time when all the cameras are looking at you viciously, it’s quite hard to do but still, it’s happening. Here let’s find some major ball tampering events in Cricket history.

1990: Chris Pringle admitting ball tampering

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Back then players were not closely monitored like now by television. Also, on-field umpires had the sole authority to take any decision regarding anything happened on the field. In 1990 Chris Pringle a KIWI gentle medium fast bowler got away despite admitting his involvement in ball tampering.

Punishment: No Punishment.

1992: Unproved ball tampering complain against Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis

Image Source: Cricket Australia

Back in 1992, Pakistan went to tour England. During the tournament, English players were absolutely ridden by Pakistani Reverse Swings, especially against Wasim and Waqar. Then English media accused both of these players for ball tampering. However, they could not prove that.

Punishment: Ball Tampering unproved

1994: English captain Mike Atherton accused of ball tampering

Image Source: The Times

During the match against South Africa at Lord’s, English Captain take some dirt from the pitch. He kept the dirt in his hand while he was working on the ball. Later, he could not able to provide a satisfactory answer when he was asked that why he kept dirt in his hand. This event is also known as the “Dirt in The Pocket”. Mike Atherton was able to save him from suspension but he fined 2000 pound.

Punishment: Fined by 2000 pound

2000: Waqar Younis: First proved ball tampering event in modern cricket

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In Sri Lanka during 2000, Waqar Younis caught a ball tampering. It was a tri-nation series. It was the first time ever where the accused player was proved to involve in ball distortion. Along with Waqar Younis, Moeen Ali and Ajahar Mahmood got different types of punishment to somehow involve in ball tampering. Waqar was banned for one match.

Punishment: Banned for one match.

2001: Sachin Tendulkar accused of ball tampering

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During 2001-2002, at Port Elizabeth in a match against South Africa, Sachin Tendulkar was accused to pinched the seam of the ball. It is a matter of debate on what was the intention to influence him to do such thing, but Mike Denness the match referee fined him with 75% of match fee and ban for one match. However, whole India team protested it and ICC later lifted the accusation on the legend.

Punishment: Fined with 75% of match fee and ban for one match, later declared innocent by ICC

2003: Fastest bowler caught in ball tampering

Image Source: The Indian Express

In 2003, Shoaib Akhter found guilty to scratch the surface of the ball in a match against New Zealand in Sri Lanka. He banned for 2 ODI matches. He did admit in his book “Controversially Your,” that he did involve in ball tampering multiple times.

Punishment: Ban for two One Day International matches.

 2004: Rahul Dravid ball tampered against Zimbabwe

Image Source: India TV

Rahul Dravid is well known as such gentleman in the cricket world. Back in 2004, at Brisban, he was indicted for ball tampering. In that match, India won by 24 runs against Zimbabwe but he was fined 50% of match fee but found guilty.

Punishment: 50% of match fee as fine.

2006: Pakistan team was accused of Ball tampering

Image Source: pakpassion

In field umpire, Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove indicted Pakistan cricket team for ball tampering. So umpires fined Pakistan team 5 runs. Pakistan Cricket team left the field in the leadership of Inzamam to protest this. They did not come back after tea-break. So umpires did forfeit the match in the favor of England. While later ICC intervene and discharge Pakistan cricket team from the allegation. Also, ICC declared the match as “Draw”

Punishment: 5 runs deduct & forfeit the match against Pakistan, later withdrawn by ICC

2010: Stuart Broad stepped on the ball

Image Source: Cricket Country

In 2010 at Capetown, Stuart Broad stepped on the ball with the spike of his shoe. Despite a complaint from South Africthe a team, the authority could not prove anything against him. Stuart mentioned it was a lazy effort from him but former English Captain Naseer Hussain told, they might mention that as cheating if the players would come from different country.

Punishment: Ball Tampering unproved

2010: Shahid Afridi, involved in a unique way of ball tampering

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In a match against Australia, Shahid Afridi did bite the ball and he did this twice. His team lost the match by two wickets and also he got two matches ban from officials. Later he mentioned all the team in the world involved in ball tampering. His method was wrong. He also said he was embarrassed and he shouldn’t have done it.

Punishment: Two matches ban.

2013: Faf Du Plessis first time accused of ball tampering (The Zipper)

Image Source: Wisden India

This event of ball tampering also known as “The Zipper”. During a match against Pakistan in Dubai, Faf Du Plessis rubbed the ball in his pants zipper. He was fined by 50% of his match and 5 runs penalty against South Africa as well. South Africa team denied the allegation and claimed they were innocent and the punishment was harsh.

Punishment: Fined by 50% of his match and 5 runs penalty against South Africa

2014: Vernon Philander and his nailing effort

Image Source: Sky Sports

In a test against Sri Lanka, South African pacer Vernon Philander used his nail to scratch the ball on the ball’s rough side. He fined 75% of his match fee and he accepted it.

Punishment: 75% of match fee.

2016: Faf Du Plessis second time accused of ball tampering (Mintage)

Image Source: The Roar

The current South African captain did use “Mint” to shine the ball. During the second test match against Australia at Hobert, Faf Du Plessis caught to suck the mint then used his saliva to shine the ball. South Africa did win the match but Far Du Plessis failed to prove his innocence. He got three demerit points and 100% fine on match fee.

Punishment: Three demerit points and 100% fine on match fee.

2018: Australian Captain Smith, Vice Captain Warner, and Bancroft

Image Source: Deccan Chronicle

In a match against South Africa; television camera identified Bancroft rubbed ball with a yellow tape and then he tried to hide that inside his trouser. Later, Smith told that the Australian leadership group was aware of this and

it was a big mistake. His statement convicted both Lehman and Warner; though it has been found Lehman was unaware of this but Warner was the mastermind behind this incident. After that, a heavy storm went over Australia team. Smith, Warner, and Bancroft banned from cricket for a while, and Lehman resigned. Australia is now in need of restart from where they have fallen.


  • Smith banned for one match, Bancroft fined by 75% of his match fee by ICC
  • Warner and Smith banned from cricket for one year, Bancroft banned from Cricket for nine months by Cricket Australia.
  • Smith and Bancroft would not be considering to captaining Australia for at least next 2 years.
  • Warner will not ever consider any type & level of leadership position for Australia ever again.

Now compared to the punishment of Smith, Bancroft, Warner and previous similar cases, obliviously these Australian Cricketers are facing too much harsh punishment. Too much emotional reaction around the world and some overexcited newspapers are the cause behind this punishment. No doubt this is an unwanted action from leaders, but still, they are a great entertainer. However, a serious punishment requires stopping such cheating in cricket to ensure a proper fair condition to play.

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