Call for ball tampering to be legalised

Last updated 08:25 20/12/2012
Ball tampering
SEAM PICK?: The photo of the alleged incident from Sunday's play.

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Ball-tampering laws should be relaxed to permit bowlers to pick the seam and redress the growing imbalance between bat and ball, former Australian Test paceman Geoff Lawson believes.

The former Pakistan coach described the rules as overkill, and so prescriptive as to allow ''mischief-making'' such as Sri Lanka's informal complaint about Peter Siddle during the Hobart Test.

Lawson, who was commentating for ABC Radio in Hobart, saw nothing untoward in the footage examined by the International Cricket Council but believes the relevant law governing changing the condition of the ball has failed to keep pace with the quantum leaps made in bat technology.

''If you're not allowed to touch a cricket ball, let's have standardised bats. If you look at a ball in the SCG museum, it's exactly the same as now but if you look at cricket bats, we've got bazookas now where we had feather dusters before. That is the biggest concern, the imbalance,'' Lawson said.

''The argument is you should be able to do whatever you want with your fingernails, or whatever, because if the ball moves it's much better for the game, because batsmen have now got this huge advantage, which they didn't have. Restrict it to natural alterations, but let's do it.

''I don't believe you should be able to adulterate the ball to a ridiculous degree but you should be able to do something to it, surely.''

Law 42.3 permits polishing of the ball ''provided no artificial substance is used'', cleaning under the supervision on an umpire and drying on a piece of cloth. Otherwise, it is illegal to do anything ''likely to alter the condition of the ball''.

''It's just overkill,'' Lawson said. ''If you graze the surface with your fingernail when you pick the ball up, you're in trouble. It could be interpreted that way.

''The other part of the law is that the umpires decide whether the ball has been changed to a certain extent. It should be left in the hands of the umpire.

"Opposition teams should have no say. It should be a nonsense if the opposition complains about it. Unofficial complaints are just mischief-making.''

Mitchell Starc, whose five-wicket haul in the second innings helped Australia to victory, said the ball was damaged by the pitch.

''That wicket was abrasive enough, and taking chunks of the ball by itself, so we didn't need to help the ball at all. We took the new ball and there was a massive chunk out of it after the second over,'' Starc said.

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''We pretty much dismissed it [the allegation] straightaway. We're not thinking too much about it.''

The umpires cleared Siddle and Ed Cowan of any wrongdoing after Australia's win, and the ICC declared the matter closed on Wednesday night.

''We have not received any new footage, and we are not expecting to receive any new footage relating to incidents from the Hobart Test,'' a spokesman said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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