Ball-Tampering Bollox

One doesn’t very often feel sorry for Aussies but this damn-fool row over ball tampering makes me feel these guys have been demonised disgracefully.

From the beginning of time a cricket ball which is polished on one side and roughed up on the other will swing more than one which has a similar surface on either side.

To polish up one side cricketers have always polished the ball on their trousers. Totally accepted. Done in full view. Absolutely AOK.

At the same time cricketers have, for donkeys’ years, put a bit of grit in their pockets to rough up the other side. Not done quite so obviously as polishing the ball on your crotch, but generally accepted as common practice.

If the desired effect is to make the ball swing more, is it morally worse to polish one side than it is to rough up the other?

Clearly, to the man on the top of the Clapham Omnibus, the reasonable, logical answer is that there is moral equivalency between polishing and roughing up.

The fact that good men can be reduced to tears by the suggestion that the practice is deeply disgraceful is a shocking example of how public opinion can be so easily swayed by spurious sanctimonious moralising.



  1. Wise words Gormenghast, I suppose one could argue that trying ro restotore the original condition of half of a ball which is designed to degrade during the course of a match is as morally reprehensible as accelerating the degradation of half of a ball, but I don’t think I’ll try..

  2. I’m sensing that you are not a cricket aficionado…

    The two activities – polishing and roughing up – are not as equivalent as you make out. Remember: the ball starts out shiny when new, and gets duller and rougher naturally as it is used. That slow degradation adds subtlety and interest to the game (I AM an aficionado, BTW). Polishing one side of the ball is merely an attempt to retain that original shine as long as possible, but its ability to do so is inherently limited. Rather than altering the condition of the ball, you are trying to stop it altering.

    Roughing up truly is an attempt to artificially alter its condition and, worse, there is (unless you are spotted) no inherent limit to how much it can be changed. If you want to make it acceptable, where would your logical approach draw the line? Would it be OK to carve pieces off the ball with a knife?

    The reaction to the Australian cheating has been intense because cricket defines itself by its spirit of fair play and those that love the game are horrified to see that being undermined. More cynical sports such as football define themselves in entirely different ways and have a higher tolerance to cheating. The fact that the Aussies have thrown their weight around as self-appointed guardians of cricketing rectitude in recent years might also have something to do with it…

  3. Reminds me of deflate gate …

    Of course we do have the technology to make balls behave erratically in the air or on the ground …
    All ok as long as nobody detects it 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *