Security concerns

The attack on cricketers and match officials in Lahore in March 2009 brought into tragic and dramatic focus a trend that began in Sri Lanka in 1987, when New Zealand abandoned their tour after a car bomb in Colombo killed 100 people. Nine years later, Australia and West Indies refused to play their World Cup games in Sri Lanka citing danger from the ongoing civil war. Subsequent series to be affected include New Zealand's tour of Pakistan in 2002, Australia and West Indies' tours of Pakistan the same year (eventually played at neutral venues), South Africa's tour of Sri Lanka in 2006, which was truncated halfway, England's of India in November 2008, when the ODI series was cut short by the attacks in Mumbai, and India's proposed tour of Pakistan in 2009.

Sep 17, 2021: Security alert: New Zealand call off Pakistan tour minutes before first ODI | Sep 19, 2021: 'We certainly believe they should be coming' - PCB CEO Wasim Khan on England's tours of Pakistan


Despite cricket's multicultural history, the game has long been blighted by racism. Racial segregation denied late 19th century fast bowler Krom Hendricks a chance to play for South Africa. In the 1960s, the Basil D'Oliveira affair precipitated South Africa's 22-year sporting isolation for its apartheid policies. Tony Greig's infamous statement in 1976 about making West Indies "grovel" is well known, as is Dean Jones casual, off-mic "terrorist" remark aimed at Hashim Amla, and the Monkeygate scandal of 2008. More recently, the Black Lives Movement has forced a reckoning within the game, with boards committing to change as cricketers have spoken up about their continuing experiences with racism and marginalisation.

Sep 10, 2021: Yorkshire admit Azeem Rafiq suffered from 'racial harassment' while at club - but refuse to release report | Sep 10, 2021: Azeem Rafiq racism report: Ten questions for Yorkshire


Controversy over illegitimate bowling actions - a burning issue in the 1950s - flared up again in the mid-to-late-1990s after Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled repeatedly in Australia. Since then a number of bowlers (Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, Harbhajan Singh and Jermaine Lawson prominent among them) have undergone remedial work after having their actions reported.

Aug 24, 2021: Roy Kaia found to have illegal action, suspended from bowling in international cricket | Jan 30, 2017: An arm sleeve that tells you if you're chucking


A 2003 European Union ruling on the right of a Slovakian handball player to play in Germany had a massive impact on English county cricket. It created an opening for players from countries with trade agreements with the EU (in effect South Africa, Zimbabwe and some Caribbean countries) to bypass the limits on overseas players and sign for counties. A trickle became a flood, and by 2008 there were more than 60 Kolpak cricketers in England, causing debate and acrimony between counties, with arguments that their presence weakened English cricket.

Aug 16, 2021: Stiaan van Zyl leaves Sussex, returns to South Africa domestic circuit | Dec 18, 2019: Life as a Kolpak


The Covid-19 pandemic hit sport in March 2020, forcing games to be played behind closed doors, and then getting cricket called off altogether. The PSL was suspended before the semi-finals, and all cricket ground to a halt. The men's T20 World Cup was postponed to 2021, the IPL to later in the year, and the launch of the Hundred deferred to 2021. International cricket only returned in July, when West Indies played in England in a biosecure bubble. In 2021, the PSL was hit by Covid again and its second half postponed.

Aug 10, 2021: 'It's a warning shot to sport to take mental health seriously' | Sep 10, 2021: Newsroom: 'ICC has to adjudicate what the result of the series is'


Players are barred, by Law 42.3, from rubbing the ball on the ground, interfering with its seam or surface, or using any implement that can alter the condition of the ball to thereby gain unfair advantage. There have been plenty of ugly incidents centring on accusations of ball-tampering through cricket's history: the John Lever "Vaseline" affair in 1976-77; the times England and New Zealand accused Pakistan of it in the early 1990s; Michael Atherton's admission that he used dirt to treat the ball against South Africa in 1994; and perhaps most infamously, the Oval Test of 2006 when Pakistan forfeited the match because they were accused of having tampered with the ball.

Jun 3, 2021: David Saker calls for Newlands ball-tampering report to be made public | Jun 3, 2021: Australia, no one cares about your ball-tampering anymore

Cricket rules

Cricket has never stopped evolving: from round-arm bowling becoming the standard, to the 15-degree rule for arm flexion while bowling. From the number of balls per over to the specifications of equipment - ranging from glove-webbing to bat handles - almost every aspect of the game is regulated. New rules are frequently put in place - especially in the shorter forms of the game, as in the case of Powerplays, free hits, and the tweaking of field restrictions.

May 11, 2021: MCC gives thumbs-down to bamboo bats, says they are 'illegal' under current laws | Sep 13, 2021: Cameroon's Maeva Douma effects four run-outs at non-striker's end against Uganda


Over the years the endeavour has been to take pitches out of the equation for ODIs and Twenty20s, by making them flat and uniform, so that the toss does not play a crucial part in the shorter format. In Tests, though, the preparation of the pitch and its durability are much more significant, impacting the result and duration of the game. Quite naturally pitches and their preparation in the longer forms of the game evoke a lot of comment and often controversy.

Apr 23, 2021: Bowling with a wet ball: 'It's about training your brain to understand that it is going to be extremely difficult' | Jun 23, 2020: Should the women's game use a shorter pitch and a smaller ball?

Corruption in cricket

Though betting on cricket was common in the 19th century, cricket's biggest match-fixing scandal was unearthed in 2000, when Hansie Cronje admitted he had accepted money to throw matches. Players from other countries were also implicated. Since then, even as cricket has gone about strengthening its anti-corruption mechanisms, instances of fixing have cropped up frequently. In 2010, three leading Pakistan players were banned and jailed on fixing charges. In 2013, three Indian players, among them Sreesanth, were arrested for spot-fixing in the IPL.

Apr 21, 2021: UAE's Qadeer Ahmed handed five-year ban for corruption | Jul 5, 2021: Former Sri Lanka Cricket performance analyst Sanath Jayasundara banned for corruption