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Wanna fix the ball? Get a razor like Thommo

Former Australian speedster reveals ‘tampering’ with a soft Kookaburra

TT Bureau Calcutta Published 12.05.20, 12:59 AM
Jeff Thomson

Jeff Thomson (Sportzwiki)

Years after retiring from first-class cricket, Jeff Thomson has confessed to “ball-tampering” during a Sheffield Shield match between Queensland and Tasmania.

Thomson paired with Dennis Lillee in arguably the greatest opening new ball partnership in the history of cricket. Lillee’s clinical consistency and Thomson’s fearsome pace made them a formidable duo with the new ball.


After a short stint with the New South Wales Blues, Thomson joined the Queensland Bulls in 1974. Greg Chappell was the captain.

Speaking on The Betoota Advocate Podcast, Thomson revealed how he once brought a Gillette razor to the Gabba in Brisbane and used it to ruin the match ball. And the ploy worked. “We were playing at the Gabba playing Tasmania on a flat as s*** wicket. I was bowling, Boony (David Boon) was batting I think,” Thomson said.

“The ball was s***. Kookaburra started making really bad balls because there was no opposition. So the s*** that they made was crap and soft.

“I’d asked the umpire before the lunch break, ‘This ball’s s***.’ He said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with this.’ It was like a marshmallow.

“At the lunch break, Greg Chappell said to me, ‘We’ve got to get rid of this ball.’ I said, ‘I’ll fix this freaking thing up.’

“This is a true story. Remember those old razor blades? Just a blade on either side, a flat piece of steel. I put that in my pocket.

“I’ve run around the quarter seam with it and around the main seam, but I pushed it a bit hard. I bowled this ball to Boony, and the thing was nearly fallen in quarters like an orange.

“After lunch, I said, ‘I told you this ball was f*****, look at this,’ and (the umpire) has gone, ‘Jesus, I’ve never seen a ball do this.’

“It’s got clean cuts, it’s not even frayed on the stitching. It’s f***ing clean cut, it was very odd.

“Anyway, we got a new ball and I got him out and we won the f***ing match.

“That’s how you cheat.”

Thomson took 200 wickets in 51 Test matches.

The 69-year-old admitted he was initially furious with the Australian trio (Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft) involved in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, calling their actions “dumb” and “ridiculous”.

“I was really angry at the time … It was so dumb, so ridiculous,” Thomson said.

“Then the s*** they said afterwards … Cricket Australia should have jumped in and said, ‘None of you guys are saying a word, we’ll handle this.’

“All they did was shoot themselves in the foot. They should have gagged them.

“In the end, (the Cape Town saga) wasn’t that big a deal. I don’t care,” he admitted.

“The boundaries are brought in, the bats are huge, they can use as many grips as they want, and you can’t do much to the ball. What a load of bulls*** that is.”

Thomson found the prospect of the ICC allowing artificial substance to polish the ball in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic hilarious. “How ironic is that?” he asked.

“We’ve just got nailed for using sandpaper a year or so ago … and now they want to stop you spitting on the ball, and want to give you some substance to rub the ball.”

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