EXPLAINER: Ball tampering in cricket

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File: Australian fielder Cameron Bancroft (R) is questioned by Umpires Richard Illingworth (L) and Nigel Llong (not in picture) during the third day of the third Test cricket against South Africa at Newlands cricket ground.

JOHANNESBURG - Cheating in sport, under any circumstances, is understandably a high level offence which warrants the full might of the law as far as the punishment is concerned.

Australia cricket captain Steve Smith and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft this week admitted to employing ball tampering methods to gain advantage over hosts South Africa during the third Test in Cape Town on Sunday.

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Bancroft was caught on stadium cameras rubbing a yellow piece of physiotherapy tape, pulled from his pants pocket, on the ball.

eNCA.com takes a look at how much influence any sort of alterations or tampering of a cricket ball has on gaining an advantage in a match.

According to Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Laws of Cricket manager, Fraser Stewart, the reason players might alter the ball’s condition is to try to get the ball swinging more in the air.

“By roughing up one side, the aerodynamics are altered and you might get more swing which will favour the bowling side.”

READ: Aussie skipper Smith banned, Bancroft fined for ball-tampering

“The laws allow a player to polish the ball on his or her trousers to remove any mud that might have got caught in the seam under the supervision of an umpire. They are allowed to do that. And if it is wet, they can dry it with a cloth.”

“What they are not allowed to do is rough (it) up deliberately, using finger nails or an external agent such as a bottle top or sandpaper, to artificially rough up one side. And the reason they might try to do that is to try to get the ball swinging more in the air. By roughing up one side the aerodynamics are altered and you might get more swing which will favour the bowling side.”

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After the admission to ball tampering, Smith was charged 100 percent of his match fee, stripped of the captaincy and slapped with a one-match ban while Bancroft was charged 75 percent of his fee, along with 3 demerit points for ball tampering.

Fraser added that the ultimate responsibility for on-field behaviour - and the South Africa-Australia series has been marred by a string of verbal altercations between the two sides - lies with the captains, and they need to ensure their teams adhere to the spirit of the game.

Smith on Monday also stepped down as captain of Indian Premier League (IPL) outfit, the Rajasthan Royals following the scandal.

Other big names in word cricket either convicted or alleged to have illegally altered the condition of the cricket ball during play include former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulka, big hitting Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis.

- Additional reporting Reuters -