Tempers fly in Ashes Melbourne Test again, England under fire for ball treatment | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Tempers fly in Ashes Melbourne Test again, England under fire for ball treatment

England’s treatment of the cricket ball has came under focus during the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne after TV cameras found pacer James Anderson running his fingernail on the seam.

cricket Updated: Dec 29, 2017 13:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Ashes,Ashes 2017-18,Australia vs England
England's Joe Root, right, talks with umpire Kumar Dharmasena as rain interrupts play during the fourth day of their Ashes cricket test match against Australia in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)(AP)

With Australia regaining the urn from England after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead with victory in Perth, it was expected that the two dead rubbers would lack intensity. However, sparks flew on the fourth day of fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when umpires S Ravi and Kumar Dharmasena were seen speaking to English skipper Joe Root just after a throw of Broad from mid-on bounced well short of stumper Jonny Bairstow on the hard wicket. (AUSTRALIA vs ENGLAND ASHES 4th TEST HIGHLIGHTS)

As TV cameras later showed English pacer James Anderson running his fingernail on the quarter seam of the ball, some of the former Australian cricketers-turned- commentators immediately sprang into action, calling England’s tactics unfair.

“I’m not sure you are allowed to use your fingernail there,” Shane Warne told Nine’s Wide World of Sports broadcast. “If you are going to touch the ball at all, it’s not just shining it, you want to do it right in front of the umpire so they know there is nothing untoward going on. But I’m not sure that Jimmy Anderson ... this might get some people talking,” the former spinner added.

Joe Root and umpire Kumar Dharmasena inspect the ball on the fourth day of the Ashes Test in Melbourne (AFP)

Former Australian cricketers Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson too jumped in the debate raising their concerns over the episode.

“It didn’t look great, to be honest. There might be a little bit of a ‘please explain’ there for Jimmy Anderson. I know there’s a lot of tactics, but there’s a bit of a line there that you shouldn’t cross in picking the seam of the ball and things like that. The English have been throwing the ball into the ground to try and scuff one side up, but that’s nothing the Aussies weren’t doing either and the umpires are generally on top of that pretty quickly,” Hussey said talking to the host broadcaster.

Johnson, on the other hand, took to Twitter as well to wonder as to how England pacers started to reverse the ball within 10 overs.

“I have no issue with both teams throwing into turf at the stumps as long as that’s all it is. Wouldn’t have thought the ball could reverse so quickly. Oh well,” the former pacer later added.

Australian women’s team wicketkeeper and wife of Mitchell Starc, Alyssa Healy also raised her concern saying the match referee should take an interest in the entire affair.

Before this ‘controversy’, there was another major talking point on day 3 when Stuart Broad was given out by the third umpire despite TV replays suggesting that the ball had not been caught cleanly by Australian fielder Usman Khawaja at the deep. The dismissal sparked a fair play debate with many English fans opining that Khawaja was aware of the ball touching the ground and therefore should not have claimed the catch.

After Australia scored 327, England showed mettle, thanks to a monumental double ton from Alastair Cook to take a huge 164-run lead in the first innings.

Australia are now battling hard to save the Test with Steve Smith and David Warner batting in the middle. As it turns out, apart from witnessing a riveting contest between bat and ball, the Boxing Day Test has also seen tempers fly between the two camps with a new controversy arising every other day.

If the third day of the Test witnessed English fans putting a question mark over the attitude of Australian players after Stuart Broad was given out in a controversial manner, the fourth morning saw former Aussie cricketers coming hard at English players for their alleged unfair ‘treatment ‘of the cricket ball.

After England were bowled without adding any run to their overnight total of 491/9 with Cook remaining unbeaten on 244, which is the highest score for a batsman carrying his bat in the Test history, England came in to bowl and claimed two early wickets in the form of Bancroft and Khawaja.

However, Steve Smith and David Warner steadied the ship and took Australia past 100 but persistent rain in the final session forced stump with the hosts still trailing behind by 61 runs.

First Published: Dec 29, 2017 12:28 IST