Why not make it a right to change a ball at 60 overs?

Dear Editor,

The ball-tampering cheating scandal in the just completed 5 day match between Australia and South Africa, two of the better teams in the game, was tragic for obvious reasons. There was, however, one aspect of it, that makes it also pathetic. That aspect was peculiar to cricket, although it may once have also been a baseball phenomenon. It is known as tampering with the ball, so that its course will be less predictable to the batsman. Tampering with the ball so that it would ‘reverse’ swing could sensibly be attempted only after the ball begins to deteriorate. In 5 day cricket the ball cannot be changed as of right before 80 overs, a number that has as its rationale, only tradition. The game will become more challenging for the batting side the more frequently the ball can be changed. It is also not disputed that ball changes bring an element of excitement to the game. What is more, while spin bowlers traditionally preferred the older ball, many currently are not averse to using the brand new ball, and certainly do not consider a ball that is older than, say, 20 overs, to be a disadvantage.  If the right to take a new ball became exercisable at, say, 60 overs, that would not only add more excitement to the game, it would also reduce the temptation to tamper with the ball. I can see no disadvantage to testing this idea.

Yours faithfully,

Romain Pitt

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