By Mohammad Zahid
Ball tampering goes on all of the time. It’s not a new phenomenon and it certainly happened a lot a few years ago. I think with all the cameras and the technology these days we haven’t heard about it much in the past year or so but it’s definitely still going on and there are plenty of cricketers definitely still doing it. I saw the images of what Faf du Plessis did and he was certainly altering the condition of the ball.
I’ve seen tampering in domestic and international cricket for years, everyone’s been doing it. With there being lots of cameras now it’s happening a lot less but it continues to happen and players will carry on doing it in the future. The punishment that du Plessis received is adequate in my opinion as it tarnishes his name and he will be remembered for that wherever he plays. So I think it’s enough.
Changes to the ball tampering law
Some people suggest that ball tampering should be legalised, but I don’t think it should as it’s against the spirit of the game, even though I’ve seen it happen a lot in the past. If you play in Pakistan, India or Sri Lanka then the ball automatically gets very rough after 30-40 overs, so you don’t really need to do anything to it. The climate and conditions are such that the ball automatically gets rough so it remains a skill to be able to reverse swing the ball. However intentionally changing the condition of the ball to make it reverse swing is cheating and I don’t think it should be legalised.
The ball tampering law is fine the way it is — it’s perfectly possible to reverse swing the ball by shining it and looking after it. The few masters of reverse swing in world cricket will tell you that it’s more important to look after the ball than it is to rough it up. You need to shine the ball, prevent it from getting wet and that is more effective than trying to rough up one side. You can rough it up as much as you want but if you don’t look after it then it won’t reverse swing.
Getting a ball to reverse swing is not a difficult art but it requires practice. We’ve always had fast bowlers in Pakistan and they are masters of reverse swing, even in club cricket. Club cricketers sometimes play with the same ball for three months so it’s automatically roughed up and they have to learn to reverse swing it! The fast bowlers at our clubs in Pakistan are masters of reverse swing even before they go on to play First-Class cricket.
Three left-armers in the playing XI and their batting abilities
All three bowlers selected for the first One-Day International (ODI) are good fast bowlers. You certainly can’t question Wahab Riaz’s and Mohammad Irfan’s selections but all three (Sohail Tanvir) are good so all three should play irrespective of what arm they bowl with. Assuming the conditions suit pace bowling then there is a place for them all in the team.
The selectors perhaps also feel that the respective batting abilities of Tanvir and Wahab strengthen their case. As a bowler, being able to bat is a plus point as you can be considered as somewhat of an all-rounder, but if you are a high quality specialist fast bowler then it doesn’t matter even if you can’t bat at all. You should work hard to improve your batting but it’s not a priority. Look at the example of Saeed Ajmal and many other bowlers who are key players but can’t really bat. Irfan can’t bat at all either but he’s an integral part of the team at the moment.
Importance of resting fast bowlers such as Dale Steyn
Rest is important for all players, not just fast bowlers, to ensure they remain at their optimal fitness level. You need rest in order to remain effective. Dale Steyn is a Test regular and has to bowl 20-25 overs every game so he should be looked after very well. In the same way, we need to look after our bowlers, particularly Irfan. Rest is important for him to prolong his career for Pakistan.
The Pakistani batting collapse
Yet again, Pakistan collapsed in a run chase; it’s nothing new and will keep on happening unless we start grooming batsmen for the future right now. Only then will they become good enough to represent Pakistan in a few years time and prevent these sorts of collapses from happening.
(Mohammad Zahid, a former fast bowler, took four for 64 and seven for 66 on his Test debut against New Zealand in 1996. But he went on to play just four more Tests. He also played 11 ODIs. The above article by Mohammad Zahid is reproduced with permission from PakPassion.net)