Does reverse swing require ball tampering?
Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught rubbing a sandpaper on the ball during the third Test against South Africa in 2018. His aim was to alter the condition of the ball. Since this incident came to light, the act of reverse swing, for which one has to prepare the ball, has come under severe criticism. But does reverse swing require ball tampering? We elaborate.
What does 'prepare the ball' mean?
You must have seen players rubbing the ball on their trousers and must be wondering why do they do so? They always rub the same-side of the ball to make it shiny. They neglect the other side so that it remains rough. Players also apply saliva on the shiny side. This process is legal and helps the ball swing and makes batting difficult.
What is reverse swing?
Reverse swing is an art where the bowler shines one side of the ball and roughens the other side naturally. If done in the right way, the ball will swing towards the shiny side rather than away from it. As the ball gets older, high air pressure on the rough side makes the ball swing inwards.
How is a ball naturally prepared for reverse swing?
Pakistan cricketers were considered the masters of this 'dark art'. Players deliberately bounce the ball on the rough side while returning it to the wicket-keeper. Moreover, they ensure that there is no moisture on the rough side and shine one side of the ball using saliva and rubbing it on their trousers.
Types of ball tampering in cricket
Polishing the red cherry with substances like hair gel, sugar or even lip balm can amount to ball-tampering. However, human spit is considered fine. One can't rub the ball on to the surface of the ground. Picking off the main seam of the ball, trying to loosen the quarter-seam on the ball and roughening up one side of the ball is also considered tampering.
Why is reverse swing required?
When the ball is new, it will swing towards the rough side as the air passes quicker through the smooth side. But after the ball becomes old it stops swinging. This is when the art of reverse swing comes into play. In short, reverse swing might be difficult to achieve but there are ways to do it without tampering the ball.