Former wicketkeeper Kiran More has revealed that ball tampering was rife during the Test series between India and Pakistan in 1989 and how players from both teams would keep 'scratching the ball' to generate reverse swing. The series More is referring to was India's tour of Pakistan in 1989, which saw the debuts of Sachin Tendulkar and Waqar Younis.
However, as More pointed out, the real talking point of the series was how the players would tamper with the ball to suit themselves and umpires would have a minimal role in dishing out penalties for the offence.
"In those days, scratching the ball was allowed, so you used to get reverse swing, big time," More said on The Greatest Rivalry podcast. "It was like, nobody used to complain from both sides. Everybody used to scratch the ball and reverse swing the ball. It was difficult to bat, it was not easy to bat. Even Manoj Prabhakar learned on that team how to scratch that ball and reverse swing that ball and Pakistan found it challenging."
John Holder, one of the umpires from the series, had in an interview said that he tried to discuss the matter with the two captains – Imran Khan and Kris Srikkanth – but there would be no outcome since there weren't many offences you could hand out punishments for. Holder, a former English First-Class cricketer, officiated in his first Test match in 1988 and retired after 27 seasons in 2009.
"A wicket would fall – and in those days the umpires didn't necessarily get hold of the ball after every over – and the players would just stand there scratching it. And it got to a point where despite what we had to say on the field, we had to get the two captains and the two managers together. We said this is illegal," Holder had told Mid-Day in 2018.
"The problem was we were powerless, because there were no sanctions we could apply. Later there was a rewrite of the laws and they decided to bring penalty runs in for ball-tampering. And then they decided you could ban the bowler from bowling for the rest of the innings."