If South African paceman Dale Steyn was to be believed, this year’s ball-tampering scandal was nothing more than a “cry for help” as the balance between bat and ball in cricket has become lop-sided in favor of the batsmen.
Being one of the inexhaustible wicket-takers of his generation, Steyn did not overlook the exploits of the Cape Town trio but said the incident indicated the required changes in cricket to inhibit the diminution of the art of reverse swing bowling.
Steyn in one of his interviews stated that “It’s obviously not on, but if you think about it, it’s almost like a cry for help. We need to do something. There’s so much in favor of batsmen these days. Fields are small, two new balls, powerplays, bats have got bigger than they used to be, the list can go on.”
Tied on 421 wickets with Shaun Pollock, the highest wicket-taker of South Africa feels that the anxiety to sing the ball was compelling the cricketers to trifle with the regulations.
The habitually new ball is used by the swing bowlers to swerve it in the air to outfox batsmen. Pakistan fast bowlers bemused the world in the 1980s by showcasing reverse swing in Test Cricket. The art of making an old battered ball deviate in the air on the contrary direction to established direction was developed into an art form in the coming years by their inheritors Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.
Since the South African team was already in lead by more than 100 in the second innings because of the loss of a single wicket on the third day of the third Test, the Australian trio hatched a plan to get that reverse swing by tampering the ball.
Subsequently, they had to pay a heavy price as Cameron Bancroft was suspended for nine full months for being spotted with sandpaper in his hand. At the same time, David Warner and Steve Smith were denuded of vice-captaincy and captaincy while handing one-year bans.
At a promotional event for GoPro Steyn made a plea to save the reverse swing as it will be a sad day to see the art of reverse swing disappear. The cricketers of his generation have grown up observing Waqar, Akram, and all such geniuses run in and reverse swing the ball.
He further stated that “And you just don’t see it today. What inspiration will other fast bowlers have if they don’t have anybody to inspire them to become fast bowlers? You might as well put a bowling machine there and everyone tries and become a batter.”
With the introduction of an extra new ball in one-day games by The International Cricket Council in 2011, many cricketers and cricket-lovers believe that it has shifted the already batsman-friendly game in the favor of batsman. At the same time, it has made the 50-over format game more arduous for the bowlers.
The Indian Cricket God, Sachin Tendulkar, among others, lately called for the revival of failing art of reverse swing in the art by returning the use of one new ball from each end.
The limitation of two bouncers per over was more like a hindrance than a help for bowlers. Steyn further agreed by saying, “They changed the rule and said we will bring two new balls into the game. I don’t want a new ball when I am bowling in the subcontinent. I want an old ball that can’t get hit out of the ground. I want a ball that when I bowl doesn’t have true bounce so that the batsman can’t hit it. “These are not rules that favor the bowler at all. They are, if anything, add to the batsman.”