Adelaide, March 29 (IANS) Australia’s domestic cricket final was plunged into controversy on Tuesday, after Victoria’s bowling coach was found guilty of intentionally damaging the match ball.
In an attempt to give his bowlers an edge, Victoria’s bowling coach Mick Lewis was filmed by broadcast cameras kicking the ball into the gutter and scuffing it on the concrete — an illegal process known as ball tampering, reports Xinhua.
By scuffing the ball in the gutter, the bowlers may be able to swing the ball through the air with greater ease, making it harder for the batsmen to hit.
Lewis, a former player for the Australian national team, pleaded guilty overnight and was fined almost $2,000 — equal to half of a player’s match fee for the domestic competition.
Cricket Australia’s head of operations Sean Cary said ball tampering was a “very serious offence” — especially in a grand final.
“Ball tampering is a very serious offence and simply won’t be tolerated at any level of the game,” Cary said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Match referee Steve Bernard addressed the matter as soon as it was brought to his attention, spoke at length to Mick Lewis about it and has handed down the subsequent penalty.”
“We acknowledge that he has apologised to the South Australian team and the match officials and hope the matter deters others from doing anything like this in the future.”
The match between Victoria and South Australia hangs in the balance heading into the fourth day, with Victoria holding a slim ascendancy.
Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide refused to say the match would be decided by Lewis’ actions, but said Lewis had personally apologised to South Australia and its coach.
“Mick pleaded guilty to Cricket Australia’s code of behaviour breach and has also accepted a severe reprimand, imposed upon him as a Cricket Victoria employee, and assured us that actions such as this will not happen again,” Dodemaide said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Mick also went personally to South Australian coach Jamie Siddons and apologised after the day’s play. Victorian coach David Saker was extremely disappointed in Mick’s actions and also that he cost the side five runs in what could be a very close match.”
The final will resume on Tuesday, with South Australia holding a 78-run lead in its second innings.