The entire cricket world was left shell-shocked by the ball-tampering scandal last year which led to Australia's Test captain and vice-captain getting banned for one year. Universal condemnation poured in from the entire world for the ignoble way in which the Aussies were trying to tamper with the condition of the ball. The English were as forthright in their criticism as anyone else.
But now, an English bowler, Monty Panesar, has come out with revelations in his book, 'The Full Monty' which suggest that the English team were as keen on altering the condition of the ball through external substances as any. In the passages of the book published by the Daily Mail newspaper, Monty gives a candid account of how certain methods were used to make the ball more likely to reverse-swing.
"We all tried to change the condition of the ball, because reverse swing has such a huge impact. When I came into the England side, my job was to prepare the ball for the seamers. Whether we broke the laws depends on how you interpret them. We found that mints and sun cream had an effect on the saliva, and that helped the ball to reverse. I might also have 'accidentally' caught the ball on the zip of my trouser pocket to rough it up a little," the spinner wrote in his book.
A veteran of 50 Tests, Panesar was also open enough to accept that in the use of this tactic, they may have been tilting towards an iota of unethical conduct. "That was probably a hairline fracture of the spirit of the game, even if the laws said you were allowed to 'use your uniform," the star of his team's famous 2012 Test series win in India admitted.
This is not the first time that an English cricketer has talked about the use of a certain substance that supposedly makes their saliva more effective in inducing reverse swing of the ball. Marcus Trescothick too, had mentioned in his autobiography that he found that when he was consuming Murray Mints - a mint-flavoured candy - while being the official shiner of the ball, it would swing more.
This calls into question the conduct of the English team and also raises questions about the honesty of cricket teams around the world. Is everyone guilty, to some extent, of trying to use external substances for making the ball move more? Should there be greater vigilance of this aspect of the game? However, one must hand it to Monty for daring to speak the truth. Maybe the Australians getting caught was just the tip of the iceberg.