Ashes investigation launched despite ICC shooting down AUS' ball-change claim | Crickit

Ashes investigation launched after Ponting's request despite ICC shooting down AUS' ball-change allegation at England

Aug 05, 2023 06:48 PM IST

Ponting's call has been answered despite ICC denying claims on ball-change episode.

It has been close to a week since the 2023 Ashes series witnessed a controversial end at the Oval in London with hosts England managing to bounce back from 0-2 deficit to level the series. During the fifth and final match of the contest, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting had highlighted on live TV about England's ball-change act in the final moments of the penultimate day of the match which helped the home team reap rewards early on Day 5 with Australia witnessing an epic collapse. The Aussie legend had immediately called for an investigation and although ICC shot down the claims, but Ponting's call has been answered.

Ricky Ponting had called for an investigation into the ball-change episode during 5th Ashes Test(Reuters-Channel 9-Twitter)
Ricky Ponting had called for an investigation into the ball-change episode during 5th Ashes Test(Reuters-Channel 9-Twitter)

Australia were 135 for no loss with both the openers - Usman Khawaja and David Warner - scoring their respective fifties as the mighty chase looked probable with fans staring at a historic 3-1 Ashes win. However, during the 37th over, umpires responded to a complain from England side to get the ball changed after a nasty delivery from Mark Wood hit Khawaja on his helmet.

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Up until then, England found it difficult to swing the ball, leaving captain Ben Stokes to try out spinners instead before going back to pace bowlers as Australia made the most of it to script their first century stand in the series. However, the replacement ball handed to them looked a lot newer and it swung both sides leaving the batters and Ponting, in the commentary box, shocked.

Khawaja had later revealed that he had brought up the issue with the on-field umpire as well. “I walked straight up to Kumar (umpire Kumar Dharmasena) and said straight away, ‘that ball looks nothing like the one we were playing with. I can see writing on it’,” he recalled. “It felt harder than any ball I’ve faced in this Ashes series – and I’ve opened the batting against the new ball every single time.”

Responding the call for an investigation from Ponting, News Corp reported that the Dukes ball owner Dilip Jajodia has launched an inquiry into the matter.

He said: “Every ball we produce for the specific season has got a date stamp on it. It would have 2023 marked on it. We supply balls to the ground. These balls are not controlled by the ECB or the ICC, it’s controlled by the ground authority. So on this particular occasion (at The Oval) the balls would be done by Surrey. Surrey get the supply of balls from us before the season starts and then they start knocking them in, getting them into wear and tear if you like and in my view, they’re probably not doing it that accurately.”

According to the report, the replacement ball was from the 2018/19 batch of Dukes ball which had turned out to a nightmare for batters in England, but Jajodia seemed to be in disbelief that such a ball was used in the 2023 series.

"It is unlikely but not impossible. I can’t imagine they would risk putting a ball in there with a different date on it,” he said. “Frankly the match referee should be on top of it. We do bang that number in quite hard, so even if the gold comes off the ball is imprinted. It wouldn’t be easy to get rid of it. I’m not saying it’s impossible (it was a 2018 or 2019 ball), but it’s not likely. I’m going to investigate myself, because it affects me … my name is at stake so it’s important they don’t misallege something wrong with the ball.”

What did ICC say?

Two days after the end of the Ashes series with Australia retained having drawn the contest, ICC responded to Australia's claims on the ball-change saga. While the apex body did not address the specific incident on Day 4 of the fifth Test, they rather explained the protocols around the ball change process.

“The ICC does not comment on the decisions taken by umpires in matches,” a spokesman said. “We can, however, confirm that all balls are preselected before the start of every match and when the situation calls for it, the match officials choose the ball that is closest to the condition of the ball that is being replaced.”

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