Catching cheat Shoaib and making him pay for flouting the law of fair
From Trevor Chesterfield
These days it is easy enough to catch a cheat. All is needed is the
probing eye of the television camera and voila, there it is - and these
days it is glorious Technicolor. It is all so easily set up for the
third umpire and a gawping audience spread across the globe.
It is interesting what cross-section of comments flowed in the media
centre at the Rangiri Stadium, Dambulla as Shoaib Akhtar was observed
putting the fingernail in what seemed to be the quarter seam of the
ball. The umpires took one look and changed it and there we had Daryl
Harper wagging a finger at the Pakistan fast bowler. Barely had the ball
been changed and there he was, at it again.
Hey . . . catch an eyeful of this lark,' said one senior journalist.
This is the sort of cheating which gives the game a bad name and gets
the good guys into trouble. He should be banned for the rest of the
year.' Harsh comments perhaps as Shoaib is already on report for a
similar warning when in Zimbabwe and International Cricket Council match
referee Clive Lloyd created a minor fuss when he gave him little more
than a ticking off.
Lloyd no doubt knew that such a finger expert as Shoaib would be picking
the seam again and get caught and this time would get hauled before
another match referee who would not be so gentle There were suggestions
as it happened that the ICC match referee for the Bank Al Falah Series,
Gundappa Vishwanath was inclined to be act a little softly on such
misdemeanours. Not this time.
In 2000, John Reid had nailed Waqar Younis, also in Sri Lanka for the
same miscreant trick when the TV camera picked up the right arm fast
bowler doing his bit of handiwork. Reid caused uproar when he banned
Waqar for his finger exercise. In Shoaib's case it was pretty obvious
what he was doing. It had nothing to do about dropping stitches either.
He was trying to be too smart for that.
Now Shoaib is to miss the final of the series and lose seventy-five
percent of his match fee which, after the initial warning, is not as
tough as the expected. The thought was that he might get a four to eight
match ban. Vishwanath took the easier option when he found the player
guilty of infringing Law 42.3 (match ball, changing its condition) and
the ICC 2002/03 playing conditions, Level 2.10.
As it was a repeated offence, Shoaib was fortunate not to have had
Vishwanath apply the maximum ban of eight matches and 100 percent of his
fee. Anyone who is found guilty of any section of the eigh*** sections
of Law 42 should be made to answer for his act of misbehaviour and the
captain also held accountable.
There are those who are going to suggest that the ICC match referee's
application was too harsh. Frankly, it is far too soft, and Shoaib who
expressed disappointment' should have been let off with another ticking
off and fined no more than fifty percent. That sort of soft approach is
not good enough. Trying to clean up the game is one thing, catching
cheats on camera and letting them get away with it is unforgivable
Shoaib, who is regarded as an idol as well as role model by many in
Pakistan and another communities, should be held up to as an example of
what is wrong with the game. It is a matter of handling just punishment
for the crime. The sport has enough ugly skeletons dancing in the
cupboard without new ones being added.
The comment by the Pakistan team manager, Haroon Rashid, that Shoaib was
trying to clean the ball' sniffs of a guilty party attempting to
justify the means when caught in the act. Frankly, it did not come
across as a convincing argument at all. He should have studied the law;
then again, how many players are genuinely aware of the laws of the
As it is his bowling action is still suspect and the Pakistan Cricket
Board have been heavily criticised for his selection, with his behaviour
likely to be noted by the board's president, General Tauqir Ali. He was
already on a warning that his behaviour would be watched. It says little
for the efforts of the ever-bustling Mohammad Sami when he knows that
his new-ball partner has used subterfuge to justify his actions.
Sure he is not the only one to do it; there are plenty who have done it
and not got caught. But as with those who have, he has to understand
that such actions are against the spirit of the game and that is what
those protesters of such nefarious acts need to remember. As Vishwanath
put it: Tampering with the ball is contrary to the laws and the spirit
of cricket. I consider this offence to be of a serious nature and the
penalty imposed reflects this view. It is unfair to attempt to gain any
advantage by altering the condition of the ball, apart from the
traditional method of polishing, or the drying of a wet ball. Players
are aware that they can clean the seam under the direct supervision of
New Zealand manager, Jeff Crowe, a former captain, was quick to put in a
protest while the third umpire Gamini Silva, had is attention drawn to
the act by the TV production team and the commentators, among them the
PCB chief executive, Ramiz Raja.
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