ICC's clarification after ball-change on 5th Ashes Test angers Ponting, McGrath | Crickit
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ICC issues clarification after ball-change saga on 5th Ashes Test infuriates Australia legends Ponting, McGrath

Aug 03, 2023 03:10 PM IST

ICC reacted after Australia legends Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath demanded an investigation on the ball-change saga on Day 5 of the 5th Ashes Test.

The fifth and final Test of a thrilling Ashes series was unsurprisingly subject to some controversy on the very last day, as England’s remarkable win to level the series 2-2 was also met with questions regarding some of the umpiring decisions. The Australian camp took issue with the ball change that occurred early on Day 5, with a roughly 35-over-old ball being changed out for a new-look ball which Australia thought was shinier and harder than it should have been.

Screenshots of the old ball (L) and the one that it was replaced with (R)
Screenshots of the old ball (L) and the one that it was replaced with (R)

The moment was a turning point as Australia lost a few quick wickets soon after. The visitors had gotten off to a strong start courtesy of openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner. Khawaja, in particular, was incensed about the added advantage England received. Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting too expressed his displeasure on air while the legendary Glenn Maxwell vented it out on social media.

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However, an ICC spokesperson provided the background on the decision made by the umpires, laying out what protocol the umpires are urged to follow in situations where balls need to be changed. Said the spokesperson: “The ICC does not comment on the decisions taken by umpires in matches. We can, however, confirm that all balls are pre-selected 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.”

Nonetheless, Australian fans are unlikely to be satisfied with that comment, with a comfortable innings derailed following the ball change. There was a visual difference between the original ball and following the change, with the new ball being a darker shade of red and lettering still visible along its side. Khawaja made that point to the umpires and reflected on it post-match.

“I walked straight up to Kumar and said straightaway, ‘That ball looks nothing like the one we were playing with. I can see writing on it’,” Khawaja told cricket.com.au. “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. I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on – you’ve gone from an old, reverse (swinging) ball to a brand-new ball’.”

Australia went from 140-0 and in a good position to 141-2, before losing Marnus Labuschagne soon after as well. While Steve Smith and Travis Head stitched together a century partnership, another collapse when that ball started reversing meant England were put in the driver’s seat. A fine performance by Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali with ball allowed Stuart Broad to lap up the last two wickets in his final Test match, with England emerging as winners by 49 run

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