Gul against legalising ball-tampering

Fast bowler Umar Gul does not think Shoaib Akhtar’s confession of ball-tampering during his controversial career would cast new suspicion on Pakistani bowlers.

The now-retired Akhtar made waves with revelations about ball-tampering in his autobiography “Controversially Yours”, which many believed might put more pressure on Pakistani fast bowlers accused of tampering in the past.

“There are so many ways to prepare the ball, it’s not just a matter of scratching it,” Akhtar wrote in the book published last month.

“I have used my boot nails and zip of my back pocket. Many bowlers use Vaseline or gum on the ball.”

Gul, 27, disagreed that Akhtar’s confession would put Pakistani bowlers under pressure.

“Pakistani bowlers have been accused of tampering in the past as well but there has been no evidence,” Gul told reporters.

Gul and Mohammad Asif, who is banned over spot-fixing charges, were in the limelight when Australian umpire Darrell Hair docked five runs against Pakistan for tampering with the ball during the Oval Test against England in 2006.

Then Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq staged a walk-out over the tampering allegations and forfeited the match – the first in Test cricket since its start in 1877.

Pakistan were cleared of the tampering charges but Inzamam was banned for four one-day matches for bringing the game into disrepute.

Gul was again in the limelight after he took five wickets against New Zealand in the World Twenty20 held in England in 2009.

“There are many ways to tamper with the ball that are illegal, like using your nail, but there are other ways to change the condition that are legal.

“A player can throw the ball on the bounce to make it rough or the ball can be damaged when it hits the advertising boards on the boundary,” he said.

“I think a lot of bowlers scratch the ball and get reverse swing. If you see, England bowlers reverse swing the ball regularly.”

But Gul said he disagreed with Akhtar on legalising ball-tampering.

“I don’t think it should be legalised. Leave cricket with its traditional ways rather than making changes that would take all the charm out of it. Reverse swing is an art and a lot of bowlers now do this.”

Gul has taken 125 wickets in 35 Tests and 134 in 90 one-day internationals in addition to 47 in 34 Twenty20s.

He hopes he can get into rhythm for Pakistan’s series against Sri Lanka in UAE later this month.

“I am bowling regularly and hope to get into my best shape against Sri Lanka,” said Gul.