Ten or so years ago, a BBC ‘quote of the week’ came from Brent Cockbain, then a Welsh international rugby player, who had said: “You cheat and cheat until you get caught out and then you cheat some more“.
Of course with the advent of in-game ‘big screen’ video replays, sometimes those that cheat are made to look extremely foolish, as when an open-handed slap from an opponent causes one of rugby’s tough guys to hit the ground as if he’d been pole-axed by Muhammad Ali in his prime (yes, that’s you I’m talking about, Donncha O’Callaghan!).
All of which calls into question the wisdom and judgement of the senior leaders of Australia’s national cricket team, some of whom have just been sent home from their current tour of South Africa for a rather too obvious attempt to cheat.
Scuffing one half of a cricket ball whilst ‘polishing’ the other half is a well-known ploy to make a cricket ball ‘swing’ in flight; a means to make life more difficult for the batsman.
And, as with many things, there are ways and means to achieve this, but I’m not sure that taking sandpaper from your pocket to illegally roughen the scuffed side of the ball is the wisest thing to do, particularly in an international match when the TV cameras cover your every move!
That sort of stupidity pales into insignificance when the umpires later ask you to turn out your pockets due to their suspicions of cheating and you pull out a hanky and lie to them, only for the TV footage of you previously stuffing sandpaper down the front of your trousers to be shown on the stadium’s big screens.
So, this is my take on the affair:
Time will show that history recalls
The discredit that surely befalls
Whose search for a wicket
Made the bowler sandpaper his balls!
Postscript: The proud Welsh rugby ‘cheat’ quoted at the top of this post only qualified as Welsh through his residency status, having moved to Wales as a 25-year-old before serving the requisite three-year residency period. Where did he hail from? Er, that would be Australia. Strewth, mate!