Ball Tampering in Cricket

Ball Tampering in Cricket- Explained, Methods, History & Examples

Cricket is the gentleman's game and prides itself on fair play and sportsmanship. Yet, the ugly head of ball tampering hides in the background, casting a shadow of controversy and raising moral questions. Let's go into this complex issue, understanding its methods, needs, and the ongoing battle to uphold the spirit of the game.

What is Ball Tampering in Cricket?

In simple terms, ball tampering refers to altering the condition of the cricket ball to gain an unfair advantage over the opposing team. Ball tampering involves changing the condition of the cricket ball through unauthorized means, such as using foreign objects like sandpaper or tape to alter the ball's surface.

More ways are scratching the ball's surface with fingernails or other objects, applying foreign substances like saliva or sweat, or deliberately roughening one side. It can affect the ball's aerodynamics, allowing bowlers to generate more swing or spin, giving them an unfair advantage over the batting team.

Need for Ball Tampering

The motivations for ball tampering are often linked to the glory of victory. Bowlers can potentially take more wickets and restrict the opposition's run-scoring by gaining an unfair advantage in swing or seam movement. In high-pressure situations, bending the rules for a win can be tempting.

Recommended reading: What is DLS in Cricket and How Does DLS Method Works?

Ball Tampering Methods

The ball tampering includes various tools and techniques:

  • Scuffing: Roughening the ball with fingernails, zippers, or sandpaper creates rough patches that aid swing and seam movement.
  • Shining: Using saliva or sweat to polish one side of the ball, making it easier for the bowler to make it swing in the air.
  • Applying foreign substances: Mints, sugar, or petroleum jelly can alter the ball's grip, making it deviate unpredictably after pitching.

Consequences of Ball Tampering

Ball tampering is strictly prohibited by the laws of cricket and is considered a form of cheating. It undermines the integrity of the game and, more importantly, destroys the spirit of the game, declining trust and fair play.

The consequences of getting caught in ball tampering are severe. It can range from fines and match bans to more serious disciplinary action by cricketing authorities. The outrage from fans, media, and fellow cricketers can be immense, leaving long-lasting scars on players' careers and country pride.

History of Ball Tampering

The sport has seen several other high-profile ball-tampering incidents over the years, each of which has sparked controversy. Moreover, there has been an increase in incidents due to more television coverage. 

The infamous "Sandpaper Gate" scandal involving the Australian cricket team in 2018 has arguably been the biggest ball-tampering incident and brought the issue into the spotlight. It also prompted calls for stricter enforcement of anti-tampering regulations.

The 2018 Scandal

During the 3rd Test between South Africa and Australia at Cape Town in 2018, the Australian team was involved in a ball-tampering incident that shocked the cricketing world. Cameron Bancroft, a member of the Australian team, was seen using sandpaper to alter the ball's condition. The team's leadership group was found guilty in this act.

Captain Steve Smith Smith was banned from all international and domestic cricket in Australia for one year starting from 29 March 2018 and consideration for any leadership role for an additional year. Vice-captain David Warner was permanently banned from all international and domestic cricket in Australia for one year and from any leadership positions. Cameron Bancroft was banned from all international and domestic cricket for nine months and from any leadership role in Australian cricket for another year.

Read Next: NRR in Cricket: What is and Why Does it Matters?

More Ball Tampering Examples

  1. Nicholas Pooran, Afghanistan v West Indies 2019, banned for four T20I matches.
  2. Sri Lanka team, Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2018, captain Dinesh Chandimal was banned for one match.
  3. Faf du Plessis, South Africa vs Australia 2016, complete match fee deducted.
  4. Vernon Philander, South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2014, 75% match fee deducted.
  5. Faf du Plessis, Pakistan vs South Africa 2013, 50% complete match fee deducted.
  6. Shahid Afridi, Australia vs Pakistan 2010, was banned for two T20I matches.
  7. Pakistan team, England vs Pakistan 2006, England were awarded the match after Pakistan team refused to take the field after penalty.
  8. Waqar Younis, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2000, 50% complete match fee deducted

Ball Tampering Fair Play

Cricket authorities are constantly evolving to combat ball tampering. Stricter laws, on-field penalties like five penalty runs, and enhanced scrutiny by umpires and cameras aim to deter players from resorting to such tactics. Educational programs emphasize sportsmanship and the long-term damage ball tampering inflicts on the game's integrity.

Ball tampering is a serious issue that has significantly impacted the world of cricket. The fight against ball tampering isn't just about enforcing rules and punishments; true change requires a shift in mindset. Players, coaches, and fans must collectively uphold the spirit of the game, prioritizing fair play and mutual respect over easy wins.


What do you mean by ball tampering?

Ball tampering is an illegal action in cricket, where the fielding team alters the condition of the ball to gain an advantage over the batting team.

Which cricketers were involved in ball tampering?

In the 2018 Sandpaper Gate scandal, Australia’s Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were found to be involved in ball tampering in a Test match against South Africa.

Why did Steve Smith lose captaincy?

Steve Smith lost his captaincy due to his involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in March 2018. Smith was also banned from playing international cricket for a year.

Win cash worth ₹3000* as Welcome Bonus