Something different for today’s Funny Friday. A lengthy background account to start but it is a 4 day Easter holiday so hopefully you will have some reading time.
Unless you have been marooned on a desert island for the last week without any contact with the outside world and your only companion has been a volleyball named Wilson, you will be aware of the cricket ball tampering controversy.
For overseas readers who may not be aware, and for those who came in late:
- Australia is playing South Africa in cricket at Cape Town.
- Australia has not been doing well and there has been continual hostile barracking against Australia from the South African supporters, some of it personal and nasty.
- Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft was detected by the broadcasting cameras of ball tampering. It showed him roughing up the ball using a small piece of sandpaper which he then tried to conceal in his underpants. Challenged by the umpires, he denied the allegation and produced his sunglasses pouch to show what he said he had in his pants.
- Captain Steve Smith later admitted that the tampering was planned by an unnamed "leadership group" during the lunch break. The deliberate cheating was widely condemned by past and present players, commentators and even by the Oz Prime Minister. Smith, Vice Captain David Warner and Bancroft have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute, suspended, and sent home. Smith and Warner were banned from the Australian cricket team for twelve months while Bancroft received a nine months ban.
- Ball tampering is not a new phenomenon, it has been going on for many years, including in 2016 when the South African skipper Faf du Plessis tampered with the condition of the ball by applying saliva onto the ball from a mint or a lolly.
- A summary of ball tampering incidents can be read at:
- The purpose of ball tampering, which is either by shining up one side of the ball or roughing up the other side, is to alter the aerodynamics of the ball to assist in swing bowling, the deviation sideways as the ball moves through the air towards or away from the batsman. The repeated shining and roughing by fielders will cause a pronounced aerodynamic effect.
- Under the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and may have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. These are usually taken to include rubbing the ball on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object, or tampering with the seam of the ball.
So what does all this have to do with Funny Friday?
The internet has responded to this in some funny ways, as posted below.
I accept suggestions that Smith, based on what has happened in past ball tampering incidents. did not think that the Bancroft ball tampering scandal would be as big a deal as it became. I also accept that it is a sad result for the players concerned, even if “You does the crime, you does the time” applies. Their careers and good names are in tatters.
All of the above is against the background of a game that has always been regarded as a sport of the elite, of honesty and integrity. One only has to think of the phrase “That’s not cricket, old boy” as denoting dishonesty or questionable tactics.
We were taught Sir Henry Newbolt’s poem Vitai Lampada (the title is taken from a quotation by Lucretius and means "the torch of life"):
There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
'Play up! play up! and play the game! '
The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game! '
This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind—
'Play up! play up! and play the game!
Here are some of the responses to playing up but not playing the game . . .
Quinton de Kock is the South African wicketkeeper and batsman who was involved in the stairwell altercation with David Warner.
Australian bowler Natahan Lyon laughs when a young South African fan asks him to autograph a s heet of sandpaper.