ICC announce crackdown on ball tampering

BEN HORNE
Last updated 11:01 01/07/2013

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The microscope will be firmly fixed on England's controversial reverse swing methods during the Ashes, after the ICC announced a crack down on ball tampering.

In October, changes will come into effect where umpires can act on suspicions of ball tampering even if they don't have firm evidence against a particular fieldsman.

There will be a two step process in place where the umpire can replace the ball and give the captain a first and final warning if he feels the ball has been 'changed'.

And on second infringement a five-run penalty will be awarded to the batting team and the captain reported.

There's no suggestion from the ICC that the cracking down comes as a result of allegations levelled against England during the Champions Trophy.

Former England captain Bob Willis claimed in television commentary at the tournament that there was an individual scratching the ball in the match against Sri Lanka at The Oval, and that umpire Aleem Dar was onto it when he ordered the ball to be replaced.

England have strongly denied any wrongdoing.

But suspicions only grew throughout the tournament, with Australian stand-in ODI captain George Bailey even admitting he was "very surprised" at how quickly England's bowlers managed to make the ball reverse compared to other teams.

The changes won't come into play for this Ashes series, but there's no doubt umpires will be on the lookout for foul play.

However, perhaps England's bigger worry ahead of the first test is the form of their batting line-up.

Against a second-string attack for second division county side Essex, England struggled.

In the pre-Ashes tour match, England were 7-212, with just three of the top seven making it past 30.

Some poor shots and a lack of patience suggested perhaps England will take longer than they hoped to adjust from limited overs mode to a test mindset.

The inability of England's batsmen to go on with the job on a flat pitch will have caught the attention of Australia's fast bowling contingent, who are backing themselves to cause havoc.

Firebrand James Pattinson and dangerous left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc will be confident after a strong lead-in match for the Australians against Somerset in Taunton.

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