Moments of Scandal and Controversy in Cricket - SportsHotels - The sports accommodation experts

Moments of Scandal and Controversy in Cricket

Cricket moves off its usual spot on the back pages of newspapers and onto the front whenever any “scandal” arises. Take the recent “sportsmanship” spat at the Second Test in the England V Australia series at Lord’s which has now drawn in even the Prime Ministers of the UK and Australia.

“Stay in your crease!” was the stark warning Australian premier Albanese gave to Rishi Sunak over the latter’s suggestion that the Bairstow stumping episode might have been handled better.

At time of writing, the series is moving toward a nail-biting stage at Old Trafford which will either see Australia victorious or, we hope, matched by England with a final Oval-based decider up ahead.

No matter, there may still be room for bags of potential rows, spats and talking points and even a good dose of controversy. And cricket sure is full of controversy. Here are a further few prime examples:

Ball tampering is a hardy annual which has given reporters lots of copy opportunities over the years.England captain Mike Atherton was the name in the frame in 1994 when he was accused of ball-tampering during the Lord’s Test against South Africa.

After TV appeared to show him applying dirt to the ball, Atherton insisted he had only “put some dust in my pocket from a used pitch… to keep my hands and the ball dry”. In trying to keep the moisture off the ball, he claimed, he was seeking to maintain its condition, rather than alter it. Ultimately, match referee, Peter Burge, fined, but did not ban, the England captain.

In 2018 Steve Smith, captain of Australia, ended up making a tearful admission that he planned to alter the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

BothSmith and his vice-captain Warner stepped down from their roles for the remainder of the match, were fined and in Steve’s case banned for the final Test of the series.

In 2006 in an England v Pakistan match the umpires, discovered that the tourists had illegally altered the condition of the ball and awarded five penalty runs to England. When the game resumed Pakistan initially refused to take the field in protest. As a result, the team forfeited the game, the first time this had happened in Test sport.

An earlier scandal, this time involving match-fixing engulfed the South African captain, Hansie Cronje in 2000 as a result of Indian police recording conversations between him and an Indian fixer-bookmaker. After initial denials, the South African admitted to accepting $15,000 from a bookie in London.

The lure of big bucks, made illegally, can never be denied. But the consequences of succumbing to temptation and then being caught are of course life changing, even devastating for careers and the reputations not only of the perpetrator but also for their families.

Take for instance the case in 2010, when the International Cricket Council suspended Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt with lifetime bans for their involvement in spot-fixing during the team’s Test against England at Lord’s earlier that year.

Following a five-week long enquiry the ICC found that the three had received bribes from a bookmaker for carrying out specific on-field actions, such as deliberate no-balls at pre-organised times. A criminal prosecution followed with Butt given two-and-a-half years in prison, while Asif and Amir were sentenced to one year and six months in jail respectively.

But, far worse than ball tampering or match fixing was the unresolved apparent murder by strangulation of Bob Woolmer, Pakistan’s cricket coach, in Jamaica following Pakistan’s shock defeat to Ireland in the 2007 World Cup. Initial reports of a heart attack were discounted by forensic scientists but even following a Scotland Yard investigation no one was brought to justice.

Every fan is disappointed when their team loses and all too often disgraceful conduct follows. and it is shame-inducing to consider the statistics for assaults on spouses and partners following “Old Firm” matches in Glasgow between ancient rivals Rangers and Celtic.

During lockdown, when no matches could be staged, the record on domestic violence held steady and, happily, relatively low. But when the four or five times a year encounters resumed post-Covid, so too did the shocking level of domestic abuse.

At least that, happily, is a notoriety with which even the roughest members of England cricket’s Barmy Army have yet to be labelled.

Here’s hoping the final two games in the Ashes series (Game 4 in Manchester – 19th – 23rd July and then Game 5 at The Oval – 27th – 31st July) don’t involve ball tampering or murders and everyone will be talking about the quality of cricket on show.

If you are planning to attend the matches and need somewhere to stay then remember to check out our range of Sports Hotels.

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