Ponting, Khawaja call for ICC investigation on controversial ball-change at The Oval
Australian legend Ricky Ponting wasn't willing to let go a controversial ball change witnessed on Day 5 of The Oval Ashes 2023 Test, with umpires Joel Wilson and Kumar Dharmasena shockingly giving England a fresh hard cherry that swung prodigiously in replacement of the old ball.
Ponting had warned of repercussions of the umpiring error on the Aussie fortunes at the lunch break on the summit day and that ultimately happened as Australia slipped from 140/0 to suffer a mini-collapse of 4 wickets for just 11 runs and eventually lost five wickets in the final session to lose the game by 49 runs.
The ball Wilson and Dharamsena gave England in replacement wasn't at all similar to the previous one that was deemed unfit for play. It was a shining new ball and Ponting, the former skipper, suggested it was a case of "blasé" treatment to changing the ball from the two officials, insisting also that fourth umpire David Millns had not presented them with an appropriate replacement to what was a 37-overs old ball.
The Aussies paid dearly for this mistake on a dry Oval surface, where not only seamer Chris Woakes found extensive nibble and side-ways movement but also Moeen Ali extracted prodigious dip and turn on his off-breaks. The Warwickshire duo ran through the Aussie batting line-up after the tourists had worked tirelessly to attain a position of dominance at one stage.
Aussies fume over controversial Ashes ball-change
Speaking as an expert for host broadcaster Sky Sports, Ponting had said it's his "biggest concern" for the Aussie run-chase when asked about the contentious ball change that gave England greater spring in their strides and inspired a collapse of 9 for 194 after Usman Khawaja and David Warner had batted commendably well to reach 140 for 0.
"The biggest concern I have is the big discrepancy in the condition of the ball that was chosen to replace the one [that had gone out of shape]. There's no way in the world you can even look at those two balls there and say in any way are they comparable," Ponting said.
"At the end of the day, if you are going to change the ball, you want to make sure that you get it right, so [you make it] as close as you possibly can to the one that you're changing it from. Now if you have a look in that box, there weren't too many older-condition balls in there. There were some older ones that were picked up, the umpires looked at that and threw them back."
"I just cannot fathom how two international umpires that have done that a lot of times before can get that so wrong. That is a huge moment in this game, potentially a huge moment in the Test match, and something I think actually has to be investigated: whether there was the right condition of balls in the box, or the umpires have just, blasé, picked one out of there that they think will be okay to use."
Khawaja echoed Ponting's sentiments after the result fell in England's favour and the Australian quest to clinch a Test series win in UK for the first time since 2001 remained elusive. The cricketer called for the ICC to act on the matter and revisit its ball-changing process for Test match cricket.
"We started off really well The big thing was that ball. As soon as they changed that ball, the first over they changed that ball I knew straightaway this ball is very different," Khawaja said at the post-match presentation ceremony. "I went straight up to Kumar and said 'how old is this ball you've given them because it feels like it's about eight overs old.' You could see the writing on both sides and it hit my bat so hard."
"Obviously I got hit in the head by Woody, and they changed the ball because they said it got damaged. But that new ball that came in, when I hit my bat … I've opened in every single innings this Ashes series and I haven't felt the ball hit my bat as hard as that ball felt when it hit my bat."
"So I said to the boys even coming into today to be careful, this new ball, it's going to be tricky. It's going to be a lot harder than that other ball. Some things you can't control in this game. It was disappointing for us because I felt like we had a real stranglehold on that game," he added.