'Cry for help': Steyn's surprising take on ball-tampering crisis

Sudipto Ganguly
'Cry for help': Steyn's surprising take on ball-tampering crisis

South African paceman Dale Steyn believes this year's Australian ball-tampering scandal could be viewed as a "cry for help" because the balance between bat and ball in cricket has become so skewed in favour of the batsmen.

Steyn, one of the most prolific wicket-takers of his generation, did not condone the actions of the Cape Town trio but said the incident exposed the need for cricket to change to prevent the loss of the art of reverse swing bowling.

"It's obviously not on, but if you think about it, it's almost like a cry for help. We need to do something," Steyn told Reuters in an interview.

"There's so much in favour of batsmen these days. Fields are small, two new balls, powerplays, bats have got bigger than they used to be, the list can go on.

Steyn says ball-tampering is a cry for help from bowlers. Pic: Getty

"You bowl a 'no ball' and it's a free hit. But I have never seen a rule change that favours the bowler."

Steyn, who is tied on 421 wickets with Shaun Pollock as South Africa's highest wicket-taker in tests, felt the desperation to get the ball to swing was forcing cricketers to flirt with regulations.

In March, with South Africa already leading by more than 100 in the second innings for the loss of a single wicket on the third day of the third Test, captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft hatched a plan to tamper with the ball to get that reverse swing.

They paid a heavy price with Bancroft, who was spotted with sandpaper in his hand, suspended for nine months, while Smith andWarner were stripped of the captaincy and vice captaincy and handed one-year bans.

South Africa's Dale Steyn can understand why the ball tampering scandal occurred

"It's a big plea and it would be a sad day to see (reverse swing) disappear," Steyn said.

"I grew up watching (Wasim) Akram, I grew up watching Waqar (Younis) and all these geniuses run in and reverse swing the ball.

"And you just don't see it today. What inspiration will other fast bowlers have if they don't have anybody to inspire them to become fast bowlers. You might as well put a bowling machine there and everyone try and become a batter."