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Vernon Philander: World Cricket's Clown of the Month, July 2014

South African bowler Vernon Philander tries to stop the ball during the first day of the second test cricket match between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Sanka Gayashan)
Sanka Gayashan/Associated Press
Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

Vernon Philander picks up this month's highly sought-after World Cricket Clown of the Month award after being found guilty of ball tampering in South Africa's first Test against Sri Lanka.

The paceman accepted the penalty without himself or his team arguing the charges—seemingly an admittance of guilt. 

But the question remains: In this day and age of cameras everywhere, how did he think he would get away with it?

After the breathtaking start to his international career, where he claimed 50 wickets in just seven matches, Philander has fallen back into the pack a little but still boasts 114 victims at an incredible average of 21.09.

But the incident, where the ICC accused (via The Guardian) him of "scratching the surface with his fingers and thumb," which occurred during the first Test at Galle, is undoubtedly a shadow over his career. 

As per the video above, the act seems relatively innocuous, but it cost the all-rounder 75 percent of his match fee, which won't trouble a highly paid sportsman too much. More importantly, did it have a significant impact on the ball and consequently the game?

The ICC's statement said the incident happened in the afternoon session that Sri Lanka closed out on 182/4 in response to South Africa's testing total of 455.

A few overs later after tea and using the same ball, Dale Steyn went on a final-session rampage to pick up three quick wickets and leave the home side in deep trouble, facing a possible follow on.

And indeed the Sri Lankans went on to lose the match and the series, enabling South Africa to reclaim their No. 1 Test ranking, according to the ICC.

Surprisingly, as per this excellent article on espncricinfo.com, Philander is the third South African to be accused of ball tampering within the last nine months.

So although Vernon will be hurting from the impact of his 75 percent match fine, the joy of helping his country back to the top of the rankings and being named Bleacher Report's Clown of the Month should be some sort of appeasement.

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