Morrant Blog


Morrant Blog


UK Cricket Controversies

Whilst cricket is known as a “genteel” game, there have been times over the years when controversies have risen over issues such as ball tampering, pitch fixing, captaincy and bowling incidents. Thankfully these incidents are relatively rare but do tend to attract media attention when they do occur, mainly with a shocked slant as many don’t expect the “gentleman’s game” to be subject to controversial issues.

Whilst cricket controversies occur worldwide, there have been specific cases in the UK that have been highlighted in the media.

Betting Scam

Cricket betting scams are where individuals may be bribed to try to throw a match  in order to receive money.

It was alleged during the tour 1881–82 England tour - Australia & New Zealand - that a betting scam had taken place to throw a match vs Victoria in the December. England Captain Alfred Shaw confirmed that he suspected this was true, but as England actually won the match, the scam had failed.

Whilst this may have been the case, when the rumours started and media published names, fights did occur between England players as to who was suspected to have been accepting money to throw the match. However, nothing was proven and in the end the allegations were dropped.

Prison sentences

Prison sentences may be handed down in a court of law should a sports player be found guilty of corruption.

Pakistani cricketers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Amif were jailed for 12 months in August 2010 for planning no-balls against England. Amir was sentenced to 5 years and Asif 7 years with 2 years suspended, both for conspiracy to cheat at gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

Essex cricket player Mervyn Westfield admitted in 2018 to taking part in a spot-fixing scandal in 2009. By this time he had been formally charged with conspiracy to defraud over claims he deliberately bowled wides as part of a spot-fixing scam and served 4 months in prison. His teammate, Danish Kaneria, was not convicted but has been banned for life from playing cricket in England and Wales by the ECB as he was also involved.

Cricket Bans

Cricket bans are handed out by ICC, the International Cricket Council, if they deem a player to have committed a misdemeanour according to the ICC Cricket Code of Conduct.

Naved Arif also has a life ban due to breaching the ECB’s Anti-Corruption Code. In 2011 he was involved in spot-fixing during the CB40 fixture between Sussex and Kent at Hove.

England star Tom Curran was banned for 4 matches in for threatening to run into an umpire during the domestic Twenty20 competition in Australia. Curran was playing for the Sydney Sixers and found guilty of a Level 3 offence for “intimidation or attempted intimidation of an umpire, match referee or medical personnel whether by language or conduct (including gestures) during a match.”

Ollie Robinson was banned in 2021 for 8 matches, due to Tweets made on social media a few years earlier. 5 of the games he is suspended for will take place from 2024 onwards.

Ball tampering

Ball tampering is the act of polishing the ball with an illegal substance to alter the condition in which it plays. This includes rubbing it on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail, using sharp objects or sandpaper to scuff it, or altering the seams.

In 2006, the Pakistani team was determined to have taken part in ball tampering against England during the fourth Test at The Oval. The Pakistani team refused to play due to this decision and England won by forfeiture. However, emails were then leaked that showed umpire Darren Hair had offered his resignation from the ICC Elite Umpire Panel for a one-off payment of $500,000 and later banned from officiating in international matches.

England captain Mike Atherton was accused of ball tampering in 1994. TV footage caught him allegedly rubbing a substance onto the ball during the Lord’s Test against South Africa. He refused to confirm these allegations, but did acknowledge there had been dirt in his pocket which he had not disclosed. He was fined £2000, which today would equate to around £4000.

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