England bowler James Anderson has responded to the claims by former captain-turned pundit Bob Willis of ball tampering, labelling them “very disappointing and frustrating” while categorically denying the team are guilty of any wrongdoing.
England coach Ashley Giles refuted those claims yesterday as England prepared to take on New Zealand in their final Champions Trophy group game today as they bid to make the semi-final stages.
Anderson told the Mail on Sunday: “As a team we’re really surprised by his comments. Even though there’s nothing to them whatsoever they could stick for a while to us, which isn’t wanted, needed of helpful.
“It’s come as a very unwelcome distraction and, frankly, we could do without allegations such as these.
“It’s very disappointing and frustrating that anyone, but especially a former England captain, should say these things, especially when we’re preparing for a massive game.
“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.”
Anderson recently broke Darren Gough’s record to become England’s leading One-Day International wicket taker, surpassing his tally of 234 in the victory against Australia.
A further two wickets in the defeat to Sri Lanka sees him currently on 239 wickets as he prepares to face the Kiwi’s today in a must win game for the hosts, but the original controversy arose when he started to get the ball to reverse swing against Sri Lanka until the umpires decided the ball was mis-shaped and changed to a new ball.
"Reverse swing has been an issue in cricket for a while," he added. "But 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.
"I can assure you that if any of the England bowlers achieve it then it is within the letter of the laws."