After Afridi’s recent ball-biting misdemeanor, a number of current and former players and commentators have talked about the possibility of legalizing ball tampering to a certain extent. Their prime argument in favor of ball-tampering is that cricket, by and large, is a batsman-friendly sport. But is it?
In the battle of bat and ball, the bowler chooses what type of ball is he going to bowl. The batsman has no idea of what speed the ball is going to be hurled at him with, where is it going to pitch, how much will it bounce, will it be a yorker, will it be slower ball, will it be bouncer, will it swing, will it spin etc. And then he has fractions of a second to react. For all he knows, the bowler might not release the ball at all, leaving him to go through the plethora of assumptions all over again.
The bowler also has a say in the field setup (yes, there are field restrictions, but they don’t govern the exact positions of the fielders), the batsman doesn’t.
If the bowler is hit for a boundary or six, he has a chance to come back again, ball after ball, over after over. But if a batsman loses his wicket once, just once!!!, its all over for him.
Add to it the psychological advantage the bowler enjoys of having the support of 10 of his team-mates around him throughout the innings and a team huddle at the fall of a wicket. On the other hand, all the batsman gets is a clap, a handshake or a pat on the back from his partner after every boundary or six and at the max, and maybe a hug after reaching 50 or 100.
If ball tampering is legalized, it is certain that the average innings score will drop down drastically. By some estimates, the average innings score would go down to below 100. Would spectators rather pay money to watch a team score 80 while the other struggles to achieve that target or would they pay to watch a team score 280 and the other pursues a close chase?