Ever since Pakistani bowlers began to swing and then reverse-swing the ball like a yo-yo, the cricketing establishment and fans alike have been wonderstruck. Some players have said the Pakistani greats right from Sarfaraz Nawaz and Imran Khan to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis maul one side of the ball and seam so bad that the sphere swings and sways like a magician’s cape. While many Pakistani greats have not revealed the secret of their success, Shahid Afridi has stepped up to man up and admit that when he was captain of Pakistan, he did bite the ball to ensure his bowlers could swing it.
In his autobiography Game Changer, written with journalist Wajahat S. Khan, he says in 2010 when he captained Pakistan in an ODI for the first time, Afridi admits he tampered the ball in pursuit of what seemed to be a desperate situation for the team. Justifications aside, Afridi says he bit the ball several times so as to dent it and end up with a rougher surface on one side, which is essential to get the bat moving in or moving out from the batsmen, depending upon how the bowler holds the rougher side and delivers it after his run-up. Not all countries have been so soft on ball tampering, when Cameron Bancroft of Australia was caught tampering with the ball, he along with Steve Smith and David Warner were banned from international cricket. While Bancroft was banned for 9 months, Smith and Warner sat out from national and Indian Premier League duties for a year, leaving the Australians an underwhelming underdog side.
The book is already controversial for its comments on Pakistan great Javed Miandad, and abrasive comments about East Delhi BJP candidate Gautam Gambhir and also for the revelation that Afridi was not 16 when he scored a fateful 100 off 37 balls against Sri Lanka but a full 19 years old. Afridi, who is known for his gutsy, improvised and unique batting and his demeanour off the field, has been forthright in accepting his role in tampering with the ball. He has also revealed that he had tipped off the Pakistan Cricket Board about spot fixing which eventually led to the ICC ban on fast bowler Mohammed Amir.