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August 2008
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RMJ: On Marcus’s extra-strong tactics

August 27th, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in England, Miscellaneous, Test cricket, The Ashes and tagged , , ,

I’m baffled by the furore that ‘mintgate’ seems to have caused. Marcus Trescothick is only being honest in describing a practice that has gone on in county cricket for many years. Whether it is right or wrong, all the players know about it and all the umpires know it’s going on. What astounds me is the hypocrisy that is coming out of the mouths of some of the critics, especially those from across the globe.

Almost without exception, the Australian players that toured England in 2005 would have already played cricket in England, either for clubs or counties. They would have to have been incredibly naive not to have noticed the practice of using sweets to shine the Dukes ball that is used in England – I don’t buy this sudden surprise at Marcus’s ‘revelation’. They would have known about it; known that umpires can’t do anything about it; their fault, therefore, for not using the method themselves. If it works that is …

… because it’s a moot point as to whether it makes a blind bit of difference to the amount the ball swings anyway. And it was reverse swing that caused the Aussies most trouble in 2005, not normal swing. Shining the ball using sugary saliva might sometimes help to swing a ball conventionally but it won’t help reverse swing.

I’ve now played several years with two Pakistani overseas bowlers. Pakistan have been the masters of reverse swing for many years and so the Sussex bowlers have been treated to their trade secrets many times. Without giving too much away I will say that the key criteria when trying to reverse the ball is to keep it DRY. Shine it, by all means, but get those clammy, sweaty palms off the ball. Putting sugary saliva on it certainly won’t help.

So by all means holler if you think the practice goes against the spirit of the game. But I believe it is within the Laws as they stand. If the authorities wanted to stop it they could do by adding a law that fielders are not allowed to eat anything on the pitch. That, of course, would be ridiculous.

Since the early days of cricket on Hambledon Common, cricketers have sought ways of bending the Laws. If WG was alive today I’m sure he’d be fielding at mid-off with a ready supply of Murray mints.

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details.

Posted in England, Miscellaneous, Test cricket, The Ashes | 5 Comments »

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