Watch: ‘I was trying to smell it’ – the bizarre bite of a cricket ball that landed Shahid Afridi a two-match ban
Watch: During an ODI against Australia in Perth, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi stunned everyone by biting the cricket ball while fielding.
Ball-tampering is an ancient ‘art’, albeit an illegal one in cricketing parlance. Over the years, cricketers have used a variety of means, including fingernails, resin, mints, Vaseline, and sandpaper in the hopes of gaining an advantage.
But all that was for the lesser mortals. One can safely trust Afridi to go beyond the normal.
This was the last ODI of a five-match series. Australia, already 4-0 up, dismissed both Pakistan openers before conceding a run. Shoaib Malik (36), Umar Akmal (67), and Fawad Alam (64) lifted Pakistan to 212 as Ryan Harris took 3-44 and Clint McKay 4-35.
The stand-in skipper won the spin of the coin, but things started falling apart immediately after that. Openers Salman Butt and Khalid Latif lasted five balls each without making any impression on the scoreboard. After 11 balls the score read two wickets for no run.
Pakistan then hit back, taking wickets at regular intervals as first Ricky Ponting (55), then Michael Hussey (40 not out) stood firm. In the 44th over, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan had Mitchell Johnson caught behind. Australia were 178-7, still 35 away.
It was now that the giant screens revealed that Afridi had been busy – there can be no other term to describe it – chomping on the ball, as a bemused, almost embarrassed, Naved looked away.
Rod Tucker, the television umpire, immediately alerted Paul Reiffel and Asoka de Silva, his on-field counterparts. Upon inspection, they had the ball replaced.
“I was trying to smell it,” explained Afridi, stunning everyone after the match, though he later pleaded guilty to match referee Ranjan Madugalle. He was banned for two T20Is for violating 2.2.9 offence of the ICC Code of Conduct (“changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 of the Laws of Cricket”.)
Nathan Hauritz helped Hussey put on 32 for the eighth wicket falling leg-before to Rao Iftikhar Anjum. With four runs to score from five balls, No.10 Ryan Harris swung for two.
Harris hit the next ball to Afridi at mid-off, but it was called a no-ball for height, and the batters sprinted the run that completed a 5-0 sweep.
Watch Shahid Afridi bite the ball: