LONDON, (Reuters) – England strike bowler James Anderson has rejected claims from former captain Bob Willis that the ball was tampered with during a Champions Trophy match against Sri Lanka at the Oval last Thursday.
Willis, who is now a television pundit, said umpire Aleem Dar’s decision to change one of the two balls after 25 overs of the Sri Lanka innings was made because the ball had been scratched to assist the bowlers and not because it had gone out of shape.
David Lloyd, another former England player who is also now a television commentator, tweeted: “Ball change is simple…umpires thought that Eng changed the condition of the ball….which is against the laws.”
The allegations were denied by England one-day coach Ashley Giles, who told a news conference: “We don’t tamper with the ball. The ball was changed, as far as I am aware, because it had gone out of shape.”
Anderson told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that Willis’ comments were an unwelcome distraction.
“The fact is people can think what they like. We know the truth, I can state categorically that no one in the England team has ever tampered with a ball and we won’t allow comments made by someone like Bob Willis to worry us,” he said.
“I hadn’t bowled for a while so I didn’t see the shape of the ball but the umpires put it through their rings to test it and decided it needed changing.”
Anderson said the England bowlers’ ability to reverse swing the ball did not mean it was being tampered with.
“Just because one bowler or one team reverse a ball better than another on a given day doesn’t mean to say he or they have been tampering. It just means they’re more skilful,” he said.
“I can assure you that if any of the England bowlers achieve it then it is within the letter of the laws.”
Anderson said all-rounder Ravi Bopara was designated to polish the ball in one-day internationals.
“It’s not that Ravi’s a specialist at this. It’s just one of his roles and there are enough cameras around to see if anything ever untoward happened. It doesn’t,” he said.