Law 42.3 of the Laws of Cricket prohibits a player from rubbing the ball on the ground for any reason, interfering with any of the seams or the surface of the ball, using any implement, or taking any other action whatsoever which is likely to alter the condition of the ball.
There have been plenty of incidents where a player/team was accused of ball-tampering. We take a look at some of the high-profile cases:
John Lever: England v India, Madras, 1976
John Lever ran through the Indian batting line-up during England's tour of India in 1976-77. The way he swung the ball on the docile pitches of Delhi, Kolkata and Madras left everyone amused. But Bishen Singh Bedi was not convinced. He said Lever had used unfair means to shine the ball. The English paceman's habit of rubbing the ball over his eyebrows every now and then was also noticed. Tests on the cricket ball revealed the presence of a greasy substance. However, the issue was hushed up.
Chris Pringle: New Zealand v Pakistan, Faisalabad, 1990
Chris Pringle was perhaps the first cricketer to publicly admit ball tampering. Having made his Test debut against Pakistan at Karachi in 1990, Pringle took a career-best 11 for 152 in his third Test at Faisalabad. He, however, stunned everyone by admitting that he had tampered with the ball because he was sure the Pakistan bowlers were doing it.
Wasim Akram & Waqar Younis: Pakistan v England, 1992
In 1992, after they were successful against the English batsmen, accusations of ball tampering began to appear in the English press, though no video evidence was ever found. Wasim and Waqar were able to obtain prodigious amounts of movement from old balls. This phenomenon, termed reverse swing, was relatively unknown in England at the time.
Mike Atherton: England v South Africa, Lord's, 1994
England skipper Mike Atherton was caught on television cameras putting dirt, taken from the pitch, on the ball.
Strictly speaking, Atherton was not breaking the rules. He was let off by ICC match referee Peter Burge. However, he was fined £2,000 by the Test and County Cricket Board, as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was known at that time.
Waqar Younis: Pakistan v South Africa, Singer Cup, 2000
Pakistan's Waqar Younis was the first player to receive a ban for ball tampering. He was also fined 50 per cent of his match fee for lifting the seam off the ball during the game against South Africa in Colombo.
Pakistan captain Moin Khan and all-rounder Azhar Mahmood were also hauled up by tournament referee John Reid of New Zealand. Mahmood was fined 30 per cent of his fees and Moin was severely reprimanded for "allowing the spirit of the game to be impaired".
Waqar received a heavier penalty than Mahmood because he had been warned for a similar offence by Reid during the third Test against Sri Lanka at Kandy a week before.
Sachin Tendulkar: South Africa v India, Port Elizabeth, 2001
In 2001 in a highly controversial action, match referee Mike Denness penalised six Indian players at the end of the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth. Virender Sehwag, S S Das, Harbhajan Singh and Deep Dasgupta were charged with showing dissent and attempting to intimidate the umpire, while skipper Sourav Ganguly was booked for bringing the game into disrepute. However, it was the incident involving Sachin Tendukar that raised a hue and cry.
Tendulkar was given a suspended ban of one game for allegedly tampering with the ball. Television cameras picked up images that suggested Tendulkar may have been involved in cleaning the seam of the ball. This can, under some conditions, amount to altering the condition of the ball. The incident escalated as allegations of racism surfaced, resulting in a massive backlash from the Indian public and even parliament.
Further developments led to Mike Denness being barred from entering the venue for the third Test match. After a thorough investigation, the International Cricket Council revoked the official status of the match and the ban on Tendulkar was revoked.
Six Pakistan players fined: Ramadan Cup, 2002
During the Ramadan Cup domestic one-day cricket tournament in Pakistan, six Pakistan players -- Naved Latif, Qaiser Abbas, Yasir Arafat, Sajid Shah, Zahid Saeed and Rao Iftikhar Anjum -- were found guilty of ball tampering. A fine of Rs 3,000 was slapped on each.
Shoaib Akhtar: New Zealand v Pakistan, Dambulla, 2003
Shoaib Akhtar was banned for two ODIs and fined 75 per cent of his match fee after television cameras caught him scratching the surface of the ball during Pakistan's match against New Zealand in the Bank Alfalah Cup in Sri Lanka.
Rahul Dravid: India v Zimbabwe, Brisbane, 2004
India's Rahul Dravid was found guilty of ball tampering during an ODI with Zimbabwe in Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia.
Match referee Clive Lloyd emphasised that television footage conclusively showed the star Indian batsman intentionally applying a lozenge to the ball during the Zimbabwean innings at the Gabba, which was in breach of clause 2.10 of the ICC's Code of Conduct. Dravid was fined 50 per cent of his match fee.
Pakistan team: v England, The Oval, 2006
In 2006, an alleged ball-tampering issue overshadowed a Test between Pakistan and England, whereby Pakistan refused to take to the field for the evening session after being penalised for ball tampering in the afternoon. Television cameras caught the umpires discussing the condition of the quarter seam. Pakistan were believed to have intended a protest against the decision by delaying their return after tea. However, while they were refusing to play, the umpires awarded the game to England in accordance with the laws of cricket.
The controversy, jokingly referred to as 'Ovalgate', arose when the umpires, Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove, ruled that the Pakistani team had been involved in ball tampering. They awarded five penalty runs to England and a replacement ball was selected by England batsman Paul Collingwood. Play continued until the tea break, without any Pakistani protest. After the tea break, the Pakistani team, after having mutually confirmed that no ball tampering had taken place and given consideration to the severity of the implication, refused to take the field. The umpires then left the field, gave a warning to the Pakistani players, and returned once more 15 minutes later. After waiting two more minutes the umpires removed the bails and declared England winners by forfeiture.
A deal was later brokered between the English and Pakistani cricket boards to allow the match to continue, and the Pakistani team did take to the field 55 minutes after the umpires first took to the field for resumption of play.
Umpires Hair and Doctrove, however, declined to continue the game maintaining their decision that Pakistan had forfeited the match by refusing to play.
The impasse continued late into the evening. Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq claimed that Darrell Hair did not inform him or the rest of his side of the reasons why the ball was replaced, and that Hair had implied that Pakistan were cheating. It was finally announced in a press conference that the Test was called off. The ECB's statement said that England were awarded the match by the umpires as Pakistan refused to take the field after being warned that under law 21.3, failure to do so would result in them forfeiting the game. This was the first time a Test match was decided this way.
As a result of Pakistan's forfeiting of the game captain Inzamam was charged and found guilty of "bringing the game into disrepute", though he was cleared of the charges relating to "changing the condition of the ball".
In January 2008, Pakistan's cricket board asked the International Cricket Council to change the official result to "match abandoned" or "match drawn" on the basis of having been subsequently cleared of ball-tampering by an ICC tribunal.
In July 2008, the International Cricket Council changed the result of the match to a draw, though in October 2008 the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) released a statement: "The ICC has no power under the laws of cricket to decide that results should be altered, whether it feels it's 'inappropriate' or otherwise."
The decision also angered former players, including Michael Holding who at the time was a member of the ICC cricket committee. Holding felt that Pakistan's refusal to play should not go unpunished even though they were not guilty of ball tampering.
On February 1, 2009 the ICC reversed their earlier decision, and changed the match result back to a win for England.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad: England v South Africa,Cape Town, 2010
In January 2010 Stuart Broad and James Anderson were accused of ball tampering by rubbing the ball on the ground with their spikes. This was in the new year Test vs South Africa. Broad maintained that was just being lazy, because it was 40 Celsius in Cape Town that day.
Andrew Flower said in his defense that the scoreline suggested that there was obviously no ball tampering!! Nasser Hussain, who had captained Anderson, said: "Stuart Broad and James Anderson were wrong to behave in the manner they did and I've no doubt that if a player from another country did the same we'd have said they were cheating."
No charges were formally placed by South Africa even though they made the accusations at a press conference.
Shahid Afridi: Pakistan v Australia, Perth, 2010
Shahid Afridi, standing in as the Pakistani captain, was banned for two T20 internationals for ball tampering in a match against Australia in January 2010. Telivision cameras showed him biting at the ball.