The highly anticipated Ashes 2023 series witnessed thrilling cricketing action between arch-rivals Australia and England. Amidst the enthralling matches, contentious moments have surfaced, with the Jonny Bairstow dismissal being a major talking point throughout the series. However, the controversy escalated after the conclusion of the 5th Test at the Oval, as an issue arose concerning England’s ball-change tactic on the final day of the match. Australian batsman Usman Khawaja and former captain Ricky Ponting voiced their discontent with the replacement ball employed by Ben Stokes’ team.
Ricky Ponting, expressing his frustration, highlighted a significant discrepancy between the condition of the ball that was replaced and the replacement ball used in the 37th over. The former Australia skipper emphasized the importance of ensuring that the new ball closely resembled the one being substituted. Ponting asserted that the ball chosen for the replacement exhibited greater swing and seam movement, leaving Australian players dissatisfied with the situation. Consequently, he called for an investigation into the matter to understand the reasons behind the ball-change decision.
Ponting’s concerns stem from the significant impact the replacement ball had on the game, particularly on the final day. He believes the ball used in the morning session swung considerably more than the original ball used the previous day. The difference in ball behavior raised questions about the selection process and whether the umpires carefully assessed the condition of the available balls. Ponting insisted on investigating whether the right conditions were considered while choosing the replacement ball or if a ball was randomly picked without proper examination.
Following Australia’s defeat, Usman Khawaja also expressed his apprehensions about the replacement ball’s condition. He noticed a stark contrast in how the new ball reacted upon striking his bat, indicating a substantial difference from the previous ball. Khawaja even brought his concerns to the attention of the umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, but unfortunately, no resolution was found.
As a top-order batsman who has faced the England bowling attack throughout the Ashes series, Khawaja’s observations held weight. He disclosed that the replacement ball felt considerably harder when it hit his bat compared to the earlier ball used. His experience with the new ball urged caution among the Australian team, warning them about the challenges they would face with its altered characteristics. The controversy surrounding the ball-change has added an additional layer of intrigue to the fiercely contested Ashes series. With both Ricky Ponting and Usman Khawaja raising valid concerns, cricket enthusiasts and officials are keen to see a thorough investigation into the matter. As the sporting world awaits further updates, the focus remains on the competitive spirit of the series and the need for fair and transparent decisions that uphold the integrity of the game.