Not since Marcus Trescothick spilled his minties at short extra cover in the Trent Bridge Test of 2001 has cricket seen a lolly scandal such as that which engulfed Rahul Dravid at The Gabba on Tuesday night.
Dravid, fielding for India against Zimbabwe in the VB Series match, was caught on camera polishing the ball with saliva. Nothing illegal in itself with that, but the saliva was noticeably green, because Dravid had also been sucking on an “energy sweet” at the same time. Oops, let rub that off there. Oh, hello worldwide TV audience. No I’m not really doing anything nasty to that cricket ball.
Match referee Clive Lloyd wasn’t too amused, charging Dravid with a Level Two offence under the ICC Code of Conduct relating to “changing the condition of the ball” and giving him the lowest available penalty, namely 50 percent of his match fee (whatever that amounts to in reality in his case).
Poor Rahul. It seems like he has done something either inadvertent or clumsy, and been caught out for it. It doesn’t in itself make for a heinous crime, although I’ve seen suggestions in the Australian press this morning that an explanation may have been uncovered for some unusual swing obtained by the Indian bowlers.
On the other side of the ledger are the comments in the Indian media comparing this to the punishment of Sachin Tendulkar by referee Mike Denness for “ball-tampering” in 2001. Others correllate Dravid’s punishment to the failure to cite Brad Williams for apparent sledging in Sunday’s game between Australia and India. I don’t think you can draw a line between those two.
Dravid did something you can’t do to a cricket ball, whether deliberate or accidental. He’s been punished. He still has an excellent reputation as a cricketer and a gentleman. Let’s move on.
I would, however, like to know more about the purpose and composition of those energy sweets.