Chris Cairns gives his views on the ball-tampering saga and examines the legal and illegal ways of making the ball swing.
Afridi king of the sinners; Wasim king of swingers
Shahid Afridi's decision to feverishly devour a cricket ball then implicate every other team in world cricket by stating that "every team does it" means he is, quite frankly, cricketing napalm. He is never boring, that's for sure. I am a supporter of Afridi's play and I love watching him compete but what was he thinking? I decided to try and figure this out and place myself in his shoes. So, was he hungry when he decided to bite the ball? Leather, and worn leather at that, is not tasty so rule that out.
Did he think this game was not being televised and no one would see him? Daft, so rule that out. The only logical explanation can be that here is a guy who wants the captaincy pretty bad. He has the leadership of the Twenty20 side but with Pakistan facing a ODI series whitewash at the hands of Australia, this was a game they could win to stop the rot and he was at the helm. Desperation can cause many to lose sight of what is acceptable and that caused Afridi to think he had somehow come in to ownership of Harry Potter's invisible cloak and that no one could possibly see him biting the ball.
The correct punishment was dished out and was possibly slightly lenient. I am sure Afridi will bounce back but his track record suggests that, in the not too distant future, he will provide another gem for us. Moving on to the ball-tampering issue. Understandably this is a taboo subject in the cricketing fraternity. There are many ways that it can be done. Lip balm smeared on at the drinks interval can then be applied to the ball to increase its shine. Another method is to use sweets. The sugar content in the saliva created by chewing the sweets is tailor-made to put on the ball and generate a red shine that Ferrari would love. Barley sugars or peppermints tend to be favoured for this.
Dirt is an option for those wanting to rough up one side, some players even keep it in their pockets to apply and make the ball scar and create better reverse swing. Sorry, I am getting quite complicated here, I know. Just remember sweets and lip gloss is for shine and conventional swing. Dirt, sandpaper and bottle tops to hack up the rough side is for reverse swing. Right, moving on. No matter how the ball gets in to its state and, yes, bottle tops have been used on the field before, it is another thing being able to get the ball to move how you want.
Reverse swing is an art. A big reason the sub-continent guys are great exponents of it is purely the conditions they play in. You need dry pitches and rough outfields, which are the conditions you pretty much get the length and breadth of Pakistan. Most new-ball bowlers in Pakistan can also swing a new ball. They have to as there is no bounce or seam. From about 10 overs to 40 overs it is the batsman's game. Then reverse swing begins to happen as one side of the ball gets very rough because of the conditions.
I know you are thinking how does this work this reverse swing? Well, you've got me there. Some physics boffins at a very posh university somewhere wrote a paper I saw that indicated it was down to wind forces on the rough side that altered the flow of the ball while the air flow on the shiny side would slide off it, creating a drag effect that would move the ball. Wasim Akram was not a physician but he was the best exponent of reverse swing. Waqar Younis was the second best but they had different styles when it came to deploying it. The other factor needed is pace. The ball needs to be travelling at significant velocity to create drag.
Waqar had a slingy action; lowish bowling arm which was perfect for bowling reverse in-swing. The reason for this is that you need to let the ball go with a slight angle on the seam. Being round arm helped this because your wrist position is already there for the correct release. Waqar's in-swinging yorkers were a thing of beauty; deadly accurate and a bit like the crew of the Titanic when they could see that iceberg: you knew it was coming but there was nothing you could do about it.
Wasim, on the other hand, was able to reverse swing the ball both ways. He had a much higher bowling arm which meant he could alter his wrist position to release the ball at different angles. Dependent on which way you want to swing the ball is which way you hold the shiny side. This is why you will see the bowlers run up covering the ball. When the ball is reverse swinging the only indication a batsman has of knowing which way the ball will swing is if they see which side the shiny side is on.
We were playing India in Chandigarh in 1999 and the ball was reverse swinging and I was managing to get it going both ways. Sourav Ganguly was facing me and Sachin Tendulkar was at the non striker's end. Ganguly would play the ones I would swing back in to him and leave the ones I would swing away. How was he doing this I pondered? Then in my next over, as I was running in and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tendulkar looking at me and change the bat from his left hand to his right hand. The "Little Master" was signalling to Ganguly which way the ball was going to go dependent on which hand he would hold the bat.
Now this takes a lot of confidence in your partner to make sure they see it correctly. Next delivery I ran in so Tendulkar could see the ball then just in my delivery flipped the ball round and bowled the opposite to what Ganguly suspected. He played and missed and there was a slightly quizzical look between the two batsmen and a few words between them in Hindi. As I walked back past Tendulkar I winked and he smiled.
From then on he let Ganguly do his own guessing. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org