It was the Pakistani fast bowlers who invented the art of reverse swing and they still strongly believe that it can be achieved without ball-tampering, that ended in shameful bans for three Australian players. Steve Smith had to step down as Australia captain and David Warner as vice-captain after they masterminded the plan of ball-tampering through batsman Cameron Bancroft in the Cape Town Test against South Africa last week.
Cricket Australia came down hard on the trio, handing a one-year ban each to Smith and Warner while nine months to Bancroft for insulting Australia’s image in the sporting industry. Former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz, who has been known as the inventor of the reverse swing — refused to accept the presumption that the skill requires ball-tampering.
As per the reports of AFP, Sarfraz said, “This is ridiculous to say reverse swing is cheating. You can achieve reverse swing without tampering with the ball. There is a conventional swing which is done with the new ball and then there is reverse swing which is achieved with an old ball and it has been proved in laboratories that reverse swing is a scientific phenomenon.”
In his career, Sarfraz took 177 wickets in 55 Tests, he further added, “When I passed the art to Imran Khan he developed it and then taught Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, and in those times everyone called it cheating but when the Englishmen started to reverse swing it became an art. It was and will remain an art, but resorting to tampering is cheating and that was what Australians did to beat South Africa and were deservedly punished.”
Explaining his point further, the legendary fast bowler said, “Conventional swing is simple — if the seam is angled toward the slip fielders it will swing away from the right-handed batsman, and if the seam is angled towards the leg side it will swing into the batsman. Reverse swing is opposite.”
Sarfraz passed the art to Imran, who had once acknowledged that he tampered the ball using a bottle top to roughen one side of the ball. Asked in a 1994 television interview whether he would have got 362 Test wickets had he not tampered with the ball, Imran replied: “Yes, it’s a misconception that whoever scratches the ball can get wickets. The whole Sussex team knew I could reverse swing and I would swing at one end while other bowlers could not swing it.”
Imran passed the baton to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who are now regarded as the most destructive fast bowlers of their generations. During Pakistan’s tour to England in 1992, the duo wrecked havoc for the Englishmen British media had alleged them to have tampered with the ball. Talking about the same, Younis said, “Those allegations were hurtful. Of course, the reverse swing can be achieved without cheating. Nowadays most of the bowlers do that and get wickets and help their teams win.”
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While Wasim was nicknamed the “Sultan of Swing” — was never caught tampering, Waqar has once banned for a game along with a fine of 50 percent of his match fee in a tri-series in Sri Lanka in 2000.
Waqar also comes up with the suggestion that which brand of cricket ball produces the best swinging balls in international cricket, he said, In my opinion, the Duke ball is the best and the SG comes close to it. They are the best balls for swing so in order to have uniformity and better swing, these balls should be used everywhere. This will help bowlers, and this will also produce better batsmen. We should solve the problem and not indulge in the blame game.”