Biggest controversies in cricket history

Cricket, like any other sport, has had its fair share of controversies over the years. These controversies have captured headlines, sparked debates, and left a lasting impact on the game. Here are ten notable cricket controversies:

Bodyline Series (1932-1933):

Bodyline Series (1932-1933)

The Bodyline series controversy took place during the Ashes series between England and Australia. England devised a strategy known as “bodyline” bowling, where fast bowlers aimed at the batsmen’s bodies with short-pitched deliveries. This tactic was specifically employed to counter the extraordinary batting skills of Australian cricketer Don Bradman. The aggressive and potentially dangerous bowling style led to injuries and sparked outrage in the cricketing world. The controversy strained diplomatic relations between the two countries, with accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct and threats to cancel the series.

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Underarm Bowling Incident (1981):

Underarm Bowling Incident (1981)

In a One Day International (ODI) match between Australia and New Zealand in 1981, Australia’s captain Greg Chappell instructed his younger brother Trevor Chappell to bowl the final delivery underarm. The intention was to prevent New Zealand from hitting a six and tying the match. The underarm delivery was seen as a violation of the spirit of the game, as it was considered against the fair play principles. The incident created an uproar, with widespread condemnation of the unsportsmanlike act.

Hansie Cronje Match-Fixing Scandal (2000):

Hansie Cronje Match-Fixing Scandal (2000)

South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje was involved in a match-fixing scandal that sent shockwaves through the cricketing community. Cronje admitted to accepting bribes from bookmakers to manipulate match outcomes, including aspects like the timing of declarations and providing insider information. His confession in 2000 led to his ban from professional cricket and highlighted the presence of corruption within the sport.

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Mohammad Amir Spot-Fixing Scandal (2010):

Mohammad Amir Spot-Fixing Scandal (2010)

Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Amir, along with teammates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, was embroiled in a spot-fixing scandal during the Lord’s Test against England in 2010. Undercover reporters exposed a plan where Amir deliberately bowled no-balls as per pre-determined agreements with bookmakers. The scandal shocked the cricketing world, and the players involved faced severe consequences, including bans from the sport and criminal charges.

Monkeygate Scandal (2008):

Monkeygate Scandal (2008)

During the Sydney Test match between Australia and India in 2008, Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds. Symonds alleged that Harbhajan had called him a “monkey.” The incident caused heated exchanges on and off the field, strained relations between the teams, and resulted in disciplinary actions against Harbhajan. The controversy became a major talking point and sparked discussions about racial and cultural sensitivity in cricket.

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IPL Spot-Fixing Scandal (2013):

The Indian Premier League (IPL) was marred by a spot-fixing scandal in 2013. It came to light that players from the Rajasthan Royals franchise, including Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan, were involved in spot-fixing matches by deliberately underperforming as per the instructions of bookmakers. The scandal led to suspensions, arrests, and a tarnished image for the popular T20 league. Efforts were subsequently made to strengthen anti-corruption measures and maintain the integrity of the IPL.

Oval Test Forfeit (2006):

Oval Test Forfeit (2006)

During the fourth Test match between England and Pakistan at The Oval in 2006, Pakistan forfeited the match after being accused of ball-tampering by the umpires. Umpire Darrell Hair penalized Pakistan for alleged ball-tampering, resulting in a five-run penalty and the awarding of five penalty runs to England. In protest, Pakistan’s captain Inzamam-ul-Haq led his team off the field, leading to the first-ever forfeiture of a Test match. The incident created controversy and raised questions about the decision-making of the umpires.

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Harbhajan Singh-Symonds Alleged Slur Controversy (2007-2008):

During the 2007-2008 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series between India and Australia, Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds for the second time. It was alleged that Harbhajan called Symonds a “monkey” during the second Test match in Sydney. Harbhajan was initially banned for three matches, but the decision was later overturned on appeal due to lack of evidence. The controversy led to strained relations between the teams and increased scrutiny of on-field exchanges.

Ball-Tampering Scandal (2018):

Ball-Tampering Scandal (2018)

In a Test match between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town in 2018, the Australian team was caught tampering with the ball using sandpaper. Cameron Bancroft, under the instructions of team leadership, was seen on camera attempting to alter the ball’s condition during the match. The incident caused a significant uproar, leading to the suspension of Bancroft, as well as the captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner. The scandal not only affected the players involved but also had a detrimental impact on Australian cricket’s reputation.

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IPL Ownership Controversies:

The IPL has witnessed several ownership controversies throughout its existence. The most notable among them was the termination of franchises. In 2010, the Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise was terminated due to ownership disputes. In 2015, the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises were suspended for two years due to their involvement in illegal betting activities. These controversies raised concerns about transparency, accountability, and the need for robust governance in the IPL.

Mike Gatting’s Shakoor Rana Dispute (1987):

Mike Gatting's Shakoor Rana Dispute (1987)

During a Test match between England and Pakistan in Faisalabad, a heated altercation between England captain Mike Gatting and Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana ensued. The argument over a disputed decision led to a standoff, with both teams refusing to continue play. The dispute attracted significant media attention and strained relations between the two teams.

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Venkatesh Prasad-Aamir Sohail Clash (1996):

Venkatesh Prasad-Aamir Sohail Clash (1996)

In the quarter-final match between India and Pakistan in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, Indian bowler Venkatesh Prasad dismissed Pakistani batsman Aamir Sohail and exchanged words. Prasad’s emphatic response after taking the wicket led to a heated confrontation between the players. The incident added to the intensity of the match and became a memorable moment in India-Pakistan cricketing history.

Mankading Controversies:

Mankading Controversies

Mankading refers to a method of run-out where the bowler dismisses the non-striking batsman if they leave the crease before the ball is bowled. Mankading has sparked debates and controversies in cricket history. Notable incidents include Vinoo Mankad’s dismissal of Bill Brown in 1947 and Jos Buttler’s dismissal by Ravi Ashwin in the IPL 2019. The controversies revolve around the spirit of the game and the perceived ethicality of the dismissal.

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Harbhajan Singh’s Slapgate Incident (2008):

Harbhajan Singh's Slapgate Incident (2008)

During an Indian Premier League (IPL) match in 2008, Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh was involved in an altercation with his teammate, Sreesanth. Harbhajan allegedly slapped Sreesanth after the match, leading to a disciplinary inquiry and a temporary ban on Harbhajan. The incident garnered significant media attention and highlighted issues of on-field discipline and player conduct.

Phil Hughes’ Tragic Death (2014):

Phil Hughes' Tragic Death (2014)

In a Sheffield Shield match in 2014, Australian cricketer Phil Hughes was struck on the head by a bouncer, which resulted in a catastrophic injury. Hughes passed away two days later, sending shockwaves through the cricketing community. The incident prompted a reassessment of player safety and led to changes in protective equipment and concussion protocols.

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Sandpapergate Scandal (2018):

In a Test match between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town, the Australian team was caught tampering with the ball using sandpaper. Cameron Bancroft was seen on camera attempting to alter the ball’s condition, leading to the suspension of him, as well as captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner. The scandal had a profound impact on Australian cricket, resulting in leadership changes, cultural reviews, and calls for a change in team culture.

Bob Woolmer’s Mysterious Death (2007):

Bob Woolmer's Mysterious Death (2007)

During the 2007 Cricket World Cup held in the West Indies, Pakistan’s coach, Bob Woolmer, was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica. The news sent shockwaves through the cricketing world and triggered a high-profile investigation. Initially, there were suspicions of foul play, with rumors of match-fixing and conspiracy surrounding Woolmer’s death. However, subsequent investigations concluded that Woolmer died due to natural causes—specifically, a heart-related issue. The incident raised concerns about the stress and pressure faced by cricket coaches and the toll it can take on their health.

The death of Bob Woolmer remains a tragic event in cricket history, and although the circumstances were ultimately determined to be natural, it sparked intense speculation and debate during the initial investigation.

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Muttiah Muralitharan’s Chucking Controversy:

Muttiah Muralitharan's Chucking Controversy

Muttiah Muralitharan, one of the greatest spin bowlers in cricket history, faced a significant controversy throughout his career regarding his bowling action. His unorthodox bowling action, which involved a prominent bent elbow, led to accusations of “chucking” or illegally straightening his arm during the delivery. Several umpires and cricketing pundits questioned the legitimacy of his action, arguing that it breached the 15-degree tolerance limit set by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The controversy surrounding Muralitharan’s action reached its peak during a Test series against Australia in 1995 when umpire Darrell Hair called him for throwing. The decision ignited a fierce debate about the interpretation and enforcement of bowling actions. Subsequently, Muralitharan faced further scrutiny and had his action analyzed through biomechanical testing. The results of these tests supported Muralitharan’s claim that his action was within the legal limits.

Despite the controversies and criticisms, Muralitharan continued to excel in international cricket, becoming the highest wicket-taker in both Test and One Day International (ODI) cricket. The issue prompted the ICC to review its regulations on bowling actions and modify the process for assessing bowlers suspected of chucking. Muralitharan’s case remains a significant landmark in the ongoing discussions about bowling actions and their interpretation in the game of cricket.

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Sachin Tendulkar’s LBW Decision Controversy:

Sachin Tendulkar's LBW Decision Controversy

Sachin Tendulkar, often regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in cricket history, found himself at the center of a controversial LBW (Leg Before Wicket) decision during the 1999 Test match between India and Australia in Adelaide. Tendulkar was batting brilliantly, and India was chasing a challenging target. In the fourth innings, Tendulkar was given out LBW by umpire Daryl Harper off the bowling of Glenn McGrath.

The decision sparked intense debate and controversy as replays suggested that the ball had struck Tendulkar outside the line of off-stump, indicating that the umpire’s decision may have been incorrect. The contentious LBW decision significantly affected the outcome of the match, as Tendulkar was dismissed when he was seemingly in a strong position to guide India to victory. The controversy led to discussions about the accuracy of umpiring decisions, the use of technology in decision-making, and the need for improved systems to review and rectify umpiring errors.

The incident involving Sachin Tendulkar’s LBW decision served as a catalyst for increased calls to implement technology, such as the Decision Review System (DRS), in cricket to reduce human error and ensure more accurate decision-making. Tendulkar’s dismissal, which was widely debated and criticized, highlighted the importance of fair and accurate umpiring decisions in the game of cricket.

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It is important to note that while controversies have occurred in cricket, the sport has also taken steps to address these issues, implement stricter regulations, and maintain the integrity of the game.

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