Ashes Test hit by ball tampering claims


LONDON Dec 29 (TNS): England’s treatment of the new ball came under the spotlight on the fourth day of the fourth Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, when the umpires had a tense discussion with captain Joe Root about their bounce returns.

Umpires S Ravi and Kumar Dharmasena spoke to Root after Stuart Broad threw the ball from mid-on that bounced well short of wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow on the hard wicket block. Bounce return is a tactic used to scuff one side of the ball and quickly attain reverse-swing.

Questions were also raised over TV footage of James Anderson paying close attention to the quarter-seam that runs down the face of the ball.

“I’m not sure you are allowed to use your fingernail there,” Shane Warne said on 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.”

“Ball reversing under 10 overs,” former pacer Mitchell Johnson tweeted during today’s morning session.

Former Australia batsman Michael Hussey said Anderson could face censure for the episode.

“It didn’t look great, to be honest. There might be a little bit of a ‘please explain’ there for Jimmy Anderson… The pitch is pretty flat and they’ve got to look at other ways to put the batsmen under pressure and reverse swing is one of the weapons they can use.”

Alyssa Healy, Australia women’s team wicketkeeper and wife of injured fast bowler Mitchell Starc, suggested the match referee may take an interest.

England rejected ball-tampering allegations as a “beat-up” as rain frustrated their push for their first victory of the Ashes series against Australia.

England´s Alastair Cook carried his bat for a world-record 244 not out before David Warner, unbeaten on 40, and captain Steve Smith, on 25, defied the visiting bowlers on a rain-truncated day.

When the match umpires called off play at 5:20 pm (0620 GMT), after persistent rain, Australia were 103 for two and trailing by 61 runs with a day remaining.

Extended hours will be played on the final day on Saturday as England press for their first win of the series, in which Australia hold an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

“Any time there´s a bit of rain and you´re on top in the game it´s a bit frustrating, but we´ve got an opportunity tomorrow to win and that´s the attitude we´ve got to take,” England coach Trevor Bayliss told reporters.

“We showed in the first innings that we can take a number of wickets reasonably quickly.

“So, 98 overs tomorrow, it´s more than enough time if we play well to force a result.”

Bayliss also slammed claims of tampering after footage of England bowler James Anderson working the ball with his thumbnail drew suspicions.

He said the umpires had later told him that the allegations were trumped up.

“It´s a beat-up. As soon as I saw the headlines I raced into the umpires and that was their words: ´Nothing to worry about, it was a beat-up, absolutely fine´,” Bayliss said.

“The umpires spoke to both captains during this game about throwing the ball into rough areas.

“Every team in the world does that and obviously the umpires don´t want it to go overboard and both teams have taken it on board.

“I did see the footage and if he (Anderson) was trying to scratch it then he was scratching the wrong (shiny) side for it to go reverse. I´m quite sure that wasn´t the case.”

The match referee Ranjan Madugalle said after the day´s play there would be no report into the allegations.