CRICKET is a batsmanâs game and bowlers have been trying for many a year to gain any advantage they can to even the balance between bat and ball
CRICKET is a batsmanâs game and bowlers have been trying for many a year to gain any advantage they can to even the balance between bat and ball.
In the 1950 Test cricket series between England and the West Indies (WI), captain John Goddard of the WI took the new ball and rubbed it on the pitch, roughing up the side of the ball, by so doing he could immediately bring on Sonny Ramadhin, the mystery slow bowler who, along with left hand spinner Alfie Valentine, were his most lethal bowlers. It worked. And WI won their first ever Test series in England. There was no rule against using that advantage at the time.
When I took part in county cricket in England, in 1969/70, a few fast and medium paced bowlers would “pick the seam”, meaning, getting their thumbnail in between the seam of the ball and pry it up. This would make for a more pronounced seam which would help the bowler deviate the ball off the pitch adding to the difficulty of the batsman. However, at that time that particular endeavour was illegal.
Nevertheless, it was up to the umpires to warn the bowlers which was done in a very matter-of-fact way without drama and most of the time without the awareness of anyone else. If the umpire, who at that time were all previous first-class cricketers (as part of their qualification), thought the condition of the ball was radically changed then he would bring it to the attention of the bowlerâs captain and probably change the ball or take off the bowler or both. The umpire was sole judge.
From the start of play, the bowlers and fieldsmen shine the ball on one side, usually on their clothing, using perspiration. As the ball wears, it swings away from that side provided all the other attributes are in play. Eventually, it was discovered by international fast bowlers that if the rough side was disfigured even more by the use of crown corks, sandpaper, fingernails, gravel etc, the ball was liable to move the other way and dip therefore making it far more challenging for the batsman. Captains also played a hand in this deception.
A new description then entered the lexicon of cricket, “reverse swing”. Also, the International Cricket Council got into the issue and officially made it a rule of the game that the condition of the ball not be altered. The umpires were given the authority to report to the match referee (a new station) any infractions by the fielding side in attempting to change the condition of the ball and the referee could establish suitable punishment according to a newly-minted standard set of rules
And that brings us to Nicholas Pooran! When one is reminded that just under two years ago three Australian cricketers, Steve Smith, the captain, David Warner, vice-captain plus the youngster on his first tour, Cameron Bancroft, were all found guilty of “ball-tampering” in South Africa and received lengthy bans (not by the ICC but by Cricket Australia, their own board), one is completely perplexed by the actions of Pooran.
Apart from that example, it is the modern day of TV close-ups where your actions on the field are public knowledge. Additionally, WI had already won the series! Then too, the modern-day game allows for the umpire to be given the ball at the completion of each over, thereby checking for ball meddling; plus, the bright, exciting left-handed batsman, is not a bowler, hence itâs mind-blowing that the 24-year-old would try something as illegal as that! It is not a deed that is a spur-of-the-moment mistake, it is the product of a planned thought process! Thus, he must have known he was doing wrong. Itâs incredible! It was ignorance in its purest form! He has given the team a bad name and was lucky to get away with a light ban and the leniency of the president of Cricket West Indies, Ricky Skerritt.
At this time, Pooran, together with Shai Hope, are the two best batsmen in the West Indies. He did so well at the World Cup, topping the batting with an average of 52 and showing relevant consistency since then
Everyone can make a mistake but this one was a huge disappointment! Just when he is in the pink of form he has to miss four T20 games through suspension. The high respect in which he was held by the cricket world will now sadly be lessened