Some of cricket’s biggest names have been caught ball tampering, so why is David Warner still paying the price?

Atherton, of course, had been caught rubbing dirt on the ball in 1994 and coughed up a £2000 ($3600) fine.

In South Africa in 2010, when Anderson and Stuart Broad were accused of stopping the ball with their spikes and picking at the seam in an effort to affect it, Hussain’s comments were damming. “Stuart Broad and James Anderson were wrong to behave in the manner they did and I’ve no doubt that if a player from another country did the same we’d have said they were cheating,” the former England captain said at the time. No fine, no action taken. The South African team declined to lay a charge, even though they protested at the press conference.

Warner’s original penalty was grossly disproportionate when compared to every other occurrence at international level.

Marcus Trescothick admitted in his autobiography, Coming Back To Me, that he was in charge of treating the ball with Murray Mints (found to be the optimum lolly after some lengthy research and development in county cricket) during the 2005 Ashes, won by England in a series where the home team’s old-ball swing was a dominant feature.

Shahid Afridi tested his incisors on the seam in 2010 and got the massive suspension of two T20 matches.

In 1990, New Zealand’s Chris Pringle, after taking career-best figures of 11-152 in Pakistan, admitted to using a bottle top to doctor the leather – a trick we saw in Pakistan in the early 1980s. No action was taken.

In 2000, Waqar himself was fined half his match fee and banned for one match for ball alteration. Sachin Tendulkar, in 2001, was seen scratching the ball and suspended by match referee Mike Denness for one Test, but that was overturned when the Board of Control for Cricket in India intervened and Denness was removed from his duties for the rest of the series.

Pakistan’s Waqar Younis celebrates the wicket of Graham Hick in 2000.Credit:Getty

Rahul Dravid was caught on camera applying lozenge residue against Zimbabwe. Clive Lloyd was not to be intimidated and fined him half of his match fee – but there was no suspension.

Virat Kohli was seen shining the ball after putting his fingers in his mouth at Rajkot in 2016 in a match against England, but the visitors decided against making a formal complaint, so no action was taken.

Faff du Plessis in 2013 was caught using his zipper to scuff the ball and was fined 50 per cent of his match fee. His manger described the punishment as “harsh”. Du Plessis was later caught orally influencing the ball condition in the 2016 Test in Hobart, which the Africans won, and was fined his match fee.

That is the same Test match where it is alleged two Australia cricket officials exhorted the team to do “anything it takes to win”. The proposition being: adulterate the ball only as much as you can get away with.

Faf du Plessis addresses the media in 2016.

Faf du Plessis addresses the media in 2016.Credit:Getty

In 2019, Nicholas Pooran was found guilty of ball alteration and suspended for four T20 matches – he probably appreciated the rest from the tedium.

Proteas seamer Vernon Philander was fined 75 per cent of his match fee in 2014 in a match against Sri Lanka for ball tampering, and South Africa won the Test. No further action was taken against him.

David Warner questioned South Africa’s ball-handling procedures in 2014 when they were throwing the ball into the ground. Warner was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for making such accusations in the media!

Murray Mints, sweets, dirt, zippers, fingernails, sandpaper – all vital ingredients to equalising the game. Aren’t you sick of all this run-making? We need balance in the game and if the pitch preparers or the ball manufacturers can’t get their acts together then human ingenuity will find a way.

Australian opener David Warner.

Australian opener David Warner.Credit:Getty

It looks like the ICC have got their adulterated leather penalties just about right – it’s naughty, but not even close to a hanging offence.

The penalty for using illegal bats is (the umpires have a frame to check bat dimensions, but it is never used), wait for it … there are no ICC penalties for cheating with a bat. So a batter can try and use an oversize blade, either thicker or wider (and this has been known to happen) and there are no repercussions. Talk about lack of balance in the game.

Which brings us, unfortunately, to the current brouhaha in Australian cricket. In a week leading into the glorious fete that is the Adelaide Test, the media attention on Warner has threatened the credibility of the game’s administration. CA’s independent panel surely consist of persons with little or no genuine cricket expertise, no historical knowledge of the game and no personal experience upon which to form an appropriate opinion.


Warner’s issues were strictly related to the playing of the game, rather than legal or civil matters. How CA could outsource this piece of delicate work smacks of the highest level of buck passing.

Warner’s original penalty – a one-year playing ban and permanent leadership ban – was grossly disproportionate when compared to every other occurrence at international level.

There were other precipitating factors at play regarding ongoing displays of undesirable behaviour by the Australian team, and by Warner individually, including a schoolyard shouting match with Quinton De Kock. Nevertheless, they may as well have sentenced him to “transportation for the term of your natural life”.

The argument to restrict his captaincy roles is distinctly different from that of leadership. His expertise in all forms of the game strongly suggests that, after retirement, he would be a valuable asset to the game from club to international level. After all, even lifer convicts were given pardons and contributed to building a nation.

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