Aussie Rules: How Ball-Tampering Has Hit Australia’s Reputation

For years, they’ve dominated cricket. But now the Australian cricket team is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. You’ve probably read about it, heard about it on the news and even been involved in a few discussions about it – but for good reason. Australia has been caught tampering with the ball, manipulating the conditions to their benefit. There’s no other way to shape it – the Australian cricket team is cheating. With the once-national heroes experiencing a fall from grace, I can’t help but feel it is completely deserved. Like many others, I love cricket and all it stands for. To see the Australian cheating like this, it undermines and diminishes what makes the sport special. This week, I’m looking at what this scandal means for the sport.

What is ball-tampering?

In cricket, ball-tampering refers to the illegal manipulation of the ball to alter its condition. This typically results in a bowler being able to utilise “reverse swing” – a move that allows the ball to veer sideways as it moves through the air at high speed towards the batsman. This is because one side of the ball is rougher than the other. This can be done by either roughing up or polishing one side of the ball relative to the other, and makes a delivery more difficult for the batsman to receive.

Under the laws of the game, players are not allowed to apply artificial substances to the ball. There are 4 levels of offences under the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct, with 4 being the highest in terms of severity. Ball-tampering is regarded as a level 2 offence, which is serious.

Camera footage confirmed that Cameron Bancroft had snuck in sandpaper to rough up the ball on Saturday. When umpires noticed and questioned him, he hid it inside his trousers. In the post-match press conference, Steve Smith admitted that the team’s leadership group had a plan, carried out by Bancroft, to tamper with the ball to “get an advantage.”

How will the Australian players will be affected?

When there’s this level of cheating in the top level of a major sport, naturally everyone wants to know the consequences. Australia captain Steve Smith and vice-skipper David Warner have been banned for a year for ball-tampering. Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the cheating in South Africa, was given a nine-month ban by Cricket Australia. The three had already been sent home from Australia’s tour – before a fourth Test begins on Friday – amid widespread condemnation stretching beyond sport.

However, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland says head coach Darren Lehmann was not involved in the controversy and will remain in his post. Many – including myself – find it hard to believe that the coach had no knowledge of this tampering. As it stands, I believe we’re not yet hearing the full story and there is more to come out surrounding this scandal.

While the players involved are now facing bans, the damage they have done has gone far beyond their punishment. These men were once idols to so many young fans and heroes of Australia. There’s little to be said and condemn that the Australian media hasn’t already. But I fully believe and echo their view – this truly is a shameful mark of the once-glorious Australian cricket team.

Saad Raja