The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has questioned the decision to fine South African batsman Faf du Plessis only 50 per cent of his match fee after the latter admitted to tampering with the ball during the second Test of the two-Test series between South Africa and Pakistan at Dubai. The PCB has every right to seek a clarification as they have rightly pointed out to the fact that Shahid Afridi was actually banned for two T20s for a similar offence back in 2010. Although the mode of tampering was different, Afridi had bitten the ball, the fact is that both committed the same offence, and hence the lighter punishment to du Plessis is not justified.
What’s du Plessis’ unacceptable act during the match did was take away a bit of glory from South Africa’s otherwise magnificent performance. The match will now be remembered as much for Graeme Smith and Imran Tahir’s exploits, as it will be for du Plessis’ zipping act. In the earlier days of cricket, it was difficult to figure out whether fielders were tampering with the ball since the television coverage wasn’t as advanced. But now, with so many cameras keeping an eye on the players, it is difficult that comprehend that cricketers are still doing it openly.
Didn’t it for a moment strike du Plessis that his act is being filmed and that he would be caught red-handed? It is really embarrassing when a player finds himself in such an awkward position that too when millions are watching your wrongdoings on camera. The most shocking aspect of all is that this isn’t the first instance that a player openly tampered with the ball in recent times. As mentioned earlier, Afridi had the audacity to chew the ball with his own players watching him, and Shoaib Akhtar did not shy away from changing the condition of the ball using his shoe during a game.
Considering the instances of ball tampering are refusing to die down, it is imperative for the ICC to act on the same. They have taken a step in the right direction but deciding to ban zips in trousers by 2015. But, isn’t this more of a reactive step than a proactive one? Everyone involved with cricket is aware that allegations of ball tampering have been hitting cricket time and again in recent times. But, apart from banning and penalising the players nothing much has been done. Things need to change to keep the credibility of players and the sport intact.
The main problem with the issue of ball tampering is that the rules pertaining to the same are not watertight. In short, what constitutes ball tampering is still not quite clear. Remember, there was so much confusion over whether or not Sachin Tendulkar had tampered with the ball during 2001 South Africa tour, before he was eventually cleared. Rules pertaining to ball tampering must be made crystal clear. Else, allegations will continue to float.
--By A Cricket Analyst