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Scuffing the Ball … in Cricket

October 26th, 2013 · No Comments · Cricket, Dubai, Sports Journalism, Sri Lanka, The National

This was a bit of a scandal, here in the UAE:

The South African cricketer found tampering with the ball.

Yes, they mess with the ball in cricket, too. Meaning it is a story that baseball fans can relate to.

First, have a look at television footage showing South Africa’s Faf du Plessis attempting to scuff or mar the surface of the ball on Day 3 of the second test pitting the world’s No. 1 team against Pakistan.

Generations of ball-tweaking baseball pitchers would be proud of that.

Except that Du Plessis got caught at it; that’s the trouble of playing in an era where most actions on a playing field are on video somewhere.

His actions, which clearly show him dragging the ball across a zipper in his pants (at one point, the zipper tab can be seen flopping back into place) … earned South Africa a five-run penalty.

It also led to a sort of general sense of embarrassment, on South Africa’s team and even throughout the sport, because attempting to scuff a ball like that is simply not “cricket” — which even in American English connotes a sense of good sportsmanship and fair play.


South Africa’s captain defended Du Plessis, saying his guys “don’t cheat”.

Except when they do. And one of those occasions came when South Africa was miles ahead of Pakistan, certain of victory. Makes you wonder if Du Plessis, at least, is a serial cheater if he thought that roughing up the ball en route to a sure victory was a good moment to play dirty.

Du Plessis soon owned up to what he did, and was fined half his match fee.

Paul Radley, one of The National’s several fine cricket writers, noted in a comment piece that South Africa’s cheating had marred the Test in Dubai, and likely will be nearly all that is remembered from it, going forward.

Three points of information:

1. The match was played in the UAE because Pakistan hasn’t been able to play internationals inside Pakistan since the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore, in 2009.

2. Cricket has been fully professionalized for quite some time now, and fans should, probably, never be shocked (shocked!) to find cheaters, not to mention whole gangs of match-fixers, in the ranks of their heroes.

3. Cricket officials say that zippers will be banned from all cricket outfits beginning in 2015. Good call.


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