Shahid Afridi bites off more than he can chew

By Ben Bloom

When it comes to ball tampering we’ve seen people using their nails, their boots, or even rubbing substances into the surface of the ball in an attempt to induce that most vital element of pace bowling – swing.

But on Saturday Shahid Afridi surely surpassed anyone in the history of ball tampering with the most stupidly outrageous incident to date.

Afridi, acting as stand-in captain for Pakistan in their final one-day international against Australia, was caught gnawing away at the ball with his teeth in full view of the television cameras.

The biting incident was quickly picked up by the TV umpire who alerted the on-field officials and the ball was changed. But the affair didn’t end there with Afridi given a two-match ban which will see him miss Pakistan’s next two Twenty20 internationals.

“I shouldn’t have done it. It just happened,” he said afterwards.

“I was trying to help my bowlers and win a match, one match. There is no team in the world that doesn’t tamper with the ball. My methods were wrong. I am embarrassed, I shouldn’t have done it. I just wanted to win us a game but this was the wrong way to do it.”

Afridi’s exclusion from the Twenty20 games against Australia and England will provide Pakistan’s selectors with a further dilemma as he was recently appointed captain in the short form of the game.

Match referee Ranjan Madugalle said: “I imposed the maximum penalty under the code [ICC Code of Conduct] to Shahid and reminded him of his responsibilities as a national captain which is to ensure that the match is played according to the laws of the game and in the spirit in which it is intended to be played.

“Shahid, when pleading guilty, apologised and regretted his actions.”

Afridi is no stranger to controversy having been banned from three international matches in 2005 for deliberately scuffing up the pitch with his boot in a Test match against England.

This latest incident will further damage Pakistan’s reputation on the global cricket stage as the most recent in a long line of ball tampering claims levelled at players from Imran Khan and Waqar Younis, to Wasim Akram and Umar Gul.

However, this issue is not confined to the Pakistan side with other countries perhaps getting an easier ride despite facing similar accusations.

Indeed in response to recent allegations of ball tampering by South Africa at England’s Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson (which were not proven), former captain Michael Vaughan asked the question “What would we say if it was Pakistan?”

Clearly in this case there is no defending Afridi’s actions though which will have brought shame to all cricket followers in his country.

They also ultimately did little to alter proceedings as Pakistan lost by two wickets to Australia who completed a 5-0 whitewash.

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