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England Deny Ball-Tampering As Stuart Broad Is Accused Of Cheating

PTI 06 Jan 2010, 11:50:33 IST
PTI

England were implicated in a ball-tampering storm as they struggled to save their hard-fought Test series lead over South Africa, reports The Mail, London.

A miserable third day of the third Test ended with England staring at a series-leveling defeat and Andy Flower, their coach, being forced to defend their integrity over claims that Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson had cheated.

South Africa ‘made their concerns known' to match referee Roshan Mahanama over the state of a ball with which they believe Broad attempted to tamper by treading on it at an early stage of the South African second innings.

Flower denied there was any ‘sinister' intent and added: ‘Over the years we have seen a lot of tall fast bowlers stop the ball with their boot.'

The controversy was sparked off by local television pictures which also showed Anderson allegedly trying to alter the condition of the ball to aid reverse swing, one of England's most potent weapons.

The affair was made official by South Africa from their position of strength at the close of play at a score of 312 for two, 330 ahead of England with two days to play, with their captain Graeme Smith undefeated on 162.

'We have raised our concerns with the match referee over the condition of the ball and we have left it to him to decide whether action is necessary,' said a South Africa spokesman.

‘We will not be saying anything more about this because of International Cricket Council regulations.'

Flower was left surprised and bemused by the South African allegations which he insisted had not been relayed to the England camp.

‘Yes I am surprised because I thought I would have heard about this before now but the first I've heard of it is from the press,' said Flower. ‘I don't see anything sinister in this at all.

'It will be up to the officials to decide if we have a case to answer but so far we have heard nothing.'

The irony of the complaint coming at a time when England's bowlers were struggling more than at any time in this series was not lost on Flower.

‘This amazing amount of reverse swing gained by Stuart Broad standing on the ball obviously hasn't worked very well!' he said.

‘As far as I'm concerned our bowlers have gone about their business very honestly on the field today. They have toiled hard in the heat while South Africa's batsmen have played very well.

'Conditions for batting have improved and we are now firmly behind the black ball.'

Match referee Mahanama confirmed that he had received an ‘unofficial' approach from the South African camp but added that he had received nothing formal.

‘There are certain forms that need to be filled in and nothing has been put in writing yet,' said the Sri Lankan. ‘If and when it is we will look at it and we would expect to receive that by start of play tomorrow but it is too early at this stage to talk about any action being taken.

'The umpires have had a hard day in the sun and I will be talking to them to find out their take on what happened.'

The saga will undoubtedly affect relations between the teams at a pivotal time in the series.

There has also been more sledging between them here at Newlands than in the previous two Tests, with Smith and his old nemesis Kevin Pietersen exchanging words on the second day and Ashwell Prince being given a verbal send-off by England after he was dismissed.

Now the gloves really will be off.