No ICC action over 'ball-tampering'

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The Independent Online

England will face no action over yesterday's ball-tampering controversy in the third Test against South Africa at Newlands, the International Cricket Council said today.

South Africa this morning declined to lodge an official complaint over their suspicions regarding Stuart Broad and James Anderson's treatment of the ball.

The ICC subsequently released a statement, reporting the umpires have also decided no charge is justified against any player - and the matter is therefore closed.

The ICC statement said: "The International Cricket Council confirms that it has received no official lodgement from South Africa team management laying a charge against any England player following reports of alleged breaches of Law 42.3 (changing the condition of the ball) on day three of the third Test between the two teams in Cape Town.

"With play on day four of the match having resumed, the deadline for submission of such notification has now passed.

"In addition, having reviewed relevant television footage, the umpires decided not to bring a charge against any player for a breach of Law 42.3.

"As such, the ICC now considers this specific matter to be closed."

South Africa, who raised their concerns over the matter and cited a raft of television footage last night, had until the start of play this morning to make an official complaint to match referee Roshan Mahanama. They declined to do that.

Video evidence of England seamers Broad and Anderson's treatment of the ball alerted the home side to the possibility that their opponents were trying to alter its condition to accelerate reverse-swing.

But by choosing not to lodge a complaint, Cricket South Africa pulled back from the brink of kick-starting a major controversy which - on such an emotive issue - had the potential to rock world cricket.

England had already responded last night by "refuting any suggestions of ball-tampering or malpractice".

South Africa's concerns centred on Broad stopping a straight-drive with the sole of his boot - studs and all - yesterday morning, and Anderson apparently running his thumb and fingers over the ball on other occasions.

A trio of former England captains subsequently had their say on the matter in their new guises as media pundits, with Michael Vaughan notable in expressing his disappointment after seeing the incident involving Anderson on television.

Vaughan told BBC Radio Five Live: "It certainly looks like Jimmy Anderson has had some kind of play on the ball.

"You have to look at the world of cricket and if it was Pakistan what would we make of it?

"It's a very delicate situation.

"Stuart Broad stood on the ball, and then Jimmy Anderson collected the ball, whether it was the next over or the over after, and started playing around the area where Stuart Broad had created the scuff marks.

"They were just trying to get the ball to reverse swing. It looks quite bad on the TV screens.

"I'm quite disappointed because I don't like to see that sort of action in a game."

Vaughan felt Anderson's actions might arouse more interest with the ICC than Broad's.

"It's Jimmy Anderson just picking at the ball and shining it in a certain technique which is probably more worrying," he said.

"I don't like to see that in the game and I'll be very interested to see how the ICC respond to it."

Nasser Hussain was not surprised to learn of South Africa's concerns after the footage emerged.

Hussain said on Sky Sports 1: "We've all been there - we're not whiter than white - where you see the ball and think would it be nice to get nails into that, get it reverse-swinging.

"But you've just got to leave it alone because if the opposition see you going like that to the ball they get very fidgety.

"Some cricketers of old allegedly would get their nails into it, use implements to really scrape it off and it would go very quickly.

"It doesn't look like James Anderson is trying to do that.

"He's been in the middle and he's playing with the thing.

"That is right on the edge of acceptable - he probably hasn't altered (the ball) that much - but if he does it for 30 overs he is altering the ball."

Mike Atherton suggested picking at the seam has "gone on since time immemorial".

"They're serious allegations," he said on Sky Sports 1.

"They (South Africa) must put up or shut up, rather than put it out in the wider domain that they've got concerns over the ball."

This morning, South Africa chose to 'shut up'.

But there is still obvious potential for a deterioration of relations between two teams locked in a heavyweight tussle over a four Test-match series.