Cricket – the gentleman’s game has been involved in many controversies. Here we list the top 10 most controversial cricketers who put a shame to this gentleman’s game.

10. Marlon Samuels

Indian police accused West Indian all-rounder Marlon Samuels of providing an Indian bookie with tactical information about team matches. There wasn’t enough information to prove that he had been paid for the information or even to charge him with match fixing, but it was enough to prove it amounted to betting. The police later released a taped conversation between Samuels and the bookie and the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned Samuels from playing cricket for 2 years. He still maintains his innocence.

9. Glenn McGrath

Australians are known to “sledge” (verbally intimidate) their opponents. Sometimes it works and sometimes it backfires. During Australia’s match against the West Indies Australian bowler Glenn McGrath and West Indian batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan had quite the altercation.

8. Michael Atherton

On the third day of the first test at Lord’s in 1994, South Africa were batting admirably and on course for a decent aggregate in their second innings. England’s bowlers looked worse than average, grabbing a wicket here and there yet neglecting to keep weight on the batsmen. And after that, TV cameras got the England commander and opening batsman Michael Atherton seeming to rub something from his trouser pocket onto the ball. Under the laws of cricket it is illegal to modify the ball using any artificial substance or one’s fingers, e.g. lifting up the seam or scraping it with one’s fingernails. He was fined £2000 by the Chairman of Selectors, Ray Illingworth, for not being totally honest with the match referee.

7. Hansie Cronje

On 7 April 2000, Delhi police revealed they had a recording of a conversation between Cronje and Sanjay Chawla, a representative of an Indian betting syndicate, over match-fixing allegations. Three other players, Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom, were also implicated. After an enquiry by the King Commission, Cronje was banned from playing or coaching cricket for life. He challenged his life ban in September 2001 but on 17 October 2001, his application was dismissed. After 13 years on July 22, 2013 the Delhi Police registered an FIR for match-fixing in 2000, the chargesheet in the case involving a few South African cricketers including its former captain Hansie Cronje, was finally filed. The scandal is touted to be one of the biggest ever to have hit international cricket.

6. Harbhajan Singh

A specialist bowler, he has the second-highest number of Test wickets by an off spinner, behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. Harbhajan was batting during his 63 on the third day of the Second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, he became involved in an altercation with Australia’s Andrew Symonds. As a result of this, he was charged with a Level 3 offence of racially abusing Symonds by calling the Australian—of Caribbean descent—a “monkey”. Harbhajan and Tendulkar, his batting partner at the time of the incident, denied this. At a hearing after the conclusion of the Test, match referee Mike Procter found Harbhajan guilty and banned him for three Tests. This decision generated controversy because no audio or video evidence was available.

5. Sreesanth

On 16 May 2013, the Delhi police arrested Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals teammates, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan from Mumbai, on charges of spot-fixing during IPL 6. Police reported that Sreesanth was drunk at the time of his arrest and thought he was been arrested for being drunk. When the Delhi police team intercepted him, he was reportedly accompanied with a woman in a SUV outside a five-star hotel in Carter Road Promenade, Mumbai. On 13 September 2013, Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan were banned for life by BCCI’s disciplinary committee.

4. Andrew Symonds

Symonds was set to play for Australia in the August 2008 series against Bangladesh in Darwin, but was sent home to Queensland after missing the team meeting on the Friday while out fishing. Stand-in captain Michael Clarke told the media that Symonds would have to re-evaluate his desire to represent Australia: “The main concern from us is Andrew’s commitment, to playing for this team and, in my opinion and I know the rest of the leadership team’s opinion, you need to be committed 100 per cent.” He was also not selected for the Australian tour to India in October 2008, as further punishment for his misadventure.

3. Shoaib Akhtar

He has been the most controversial cricketer of the era and has never stayed out of the limelight. He has had fights with his own team mates as well as ground officials, PCB officials and several players. He has been involved in drug scandals, ball tampering and match fixing scandals. In 2006, he was tested positive for a banned substance. In 2007, he was banned for an indefinite period for his fight with team mate Mohammed Asif. In 2008, he was banned for 5 years for publicly criticizing the PCB. He was also sent back by British Immigration officials after he landed in London for not having a valid working visa. From being potentially the best bowling talent to getting banned and accused of chucking, this player has never stayed out of controversies.

2. Mohammad Azharuddin

The former Indian captain had his own share of match fixing scandals. Towards the end of his playing career, he was accused of match fixing and corruption. It was claimed that the BCCI imposed a life ban on him after he admitted to fixing three ODI games. But the ban was lifted in 2006 by the BCCI and even honoured along with other Test captains in Mumbai. The ICC however claimed that it alone had the right to revoke the ban. But in 2012, the Andhra Pradesh high court lifted the ban on him and said the ban was unsustainable.

1. Shahid Afridi

In an embarrassing incident, Pakistani all-rounder, Shahid Afridi was caught in the camera while biting the ball during an ODI match Australia on 31st January 2010. The charge was laid by the on-field umpires Ashoka de Silva and Paul Reiffel as well as the 3rd umpire, Rod Tucker and 4th umpire Mick Martell. As a consequence, Afridi was banned for 2 T20 international matches. On his defense, Afridi tried a rather hilarious and lame excuse that he was trying to smell the ball. This incident is rated as one of the top 10 cricket controversies.