Cricket: legal consequences of ball tampering.

March 1, 2024

Ball tampering is an action in which a fielder, illegally alters the condition of the ball thereby interfering the aerodynamics of the ball to aid swing bowling. Traditionally players also use the one side shining method with their saliva and sweat to generate movement in air while it is swung to the batsman.

Such a tampering is orchestrated to make the opposing batsmen difficult to bat as the ball while fiddling swings more in the air!

Clause 41.3.2 of the Laws of Cricket provides: “It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the So, clause 41.3.2 deems any unauthorised change to the ball to be an unfair change. 

The player is guilty of ball tampering even if they fail to achieve their target by altering the behaviour of the ball. A green horn tamper is just as guilty as a seasoned ball tamperer. The sub-clauses to clause 41.3.2 attempt to provide some further guidance about what is acceptable and what is not:

A fielder may, however:

  • polish the ball on his/her clothing provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time.
  • remove mud from the ball under the supervision of an umpire.
  • dry a wet ball on a piece of cloth that has been approved by the umpires.

condition of the ball.”

However, the prohibition in sub-clause is against employing an artificial substance to assist in the tampering of the ball by applying balm, mints from the mouth, lip gels or hair gels and such substances to give that extra sheen to the ball. But saliva or sweat are considered acceptable because they are natural substances. If a bowler is found to be guilty of repeated ball tampering he can be prohibited from continuing to bowl in that innings. Following the conclusion of play, additional sanctions are usually brought against a the player who did tamper the ball, as it is considered a serious offence.

A player found guilty of ball-tampering can now be banned for up to six Test matches or 12 ODIs. Four new offences have also been included in the code of conduct. These are: attempting to gain an unfair advantage (cheating, other than ball-tampering ), personal abuse, audible obscenity, and disobeying an umpire's instructions.

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