Former captain accuses England of ball-tampering


England have found themselves at the centre of a tampering row after former captain Bob Willis accused them of scratching the ball.

The alleged incident took place during England’s seven-wicket Champions Trophy one-day international defeat by Sri Lanka at The Oval on Thursday, when Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar and his his New Zealand on-field colleague Billy Bowden ordered one of the balls in use to be changed while the Sri Lankans were batting.

“Let’s not beat about the bush – Aleem Dar is on England’s case,” Willis told Saturday’s edition of the Sun tabloid.

“He knows that one individual is scratching the ball for England – who I am not going to name – and that’s why the ball was changed,” insisted Willis, one of England’s greatest fast bowlers.

“Have you ever heard about the batting side or the umpire complaining about the shape of the ball?” added Willis, one of only four England bowlers to have taken 300 Test wickets.

Under current rules for one-day internationals, two white balls are in use for each innings.

Balls can be changed for legitimate reasons, such as being knocked out of shape as a result of forceful hits by batsmen, and are often done so at the request of the fielding side.

However, on Thursday it appeared that it was Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara who complained about the condition of the ball when his side were 2-119 at the halfway stage of their reply to England’s seemingly imposing 7-293.

England were unhappy as their attack was starting to gain reverse swing, which was key to their opening victory over Australia and is aided by natural wear and tear of the ball, with captain Alastair Cook leading the protests.

However, the replacement ball moved little and Sangakkara went on to complete a superb unbeaten hundred to guide Sri Lanka to victory.

After the match, Cook said: “The ball was changed because it was out of shape. The umpires make these decisions and you have to accept them. Sometimes you don’t think they are the right decisions.”

But Willis, an England captain in the early 1980s, told the Sun: “How naive does Alastair Cook think we are? He didn’t want the ball changed. So why was it changed?

“It is OK for the ball to scuff through natural wear and tear – but against cricket’s laws to use fingernails or other means to alter its condition.”

Australian umpire Darrell Hair, together with West Indies’ Billy Doctrove, docked Pakistan five runs for ball-tampering during a controversial Test against England in 2006.

Pakistan subsequently forfeited the match in protest – the first time this had happened in Test history – and were subsequently exonerated by an International Cricket Council (ICC) investigation.

The ensuing row ultimately cost Hair his career as a senior international umpire.

But match officials in the England-Sri Lanka match took no similar action.

The ICC explained that because the umpires haven’t reported anything and no team has complained, they were not planning to take any action.

England must beat New Zealand in Cardiff on Sunday to seal a semi-final spot.

If they lose they are out and either Australia or Sri Lanka will go through after their match on Monday.

Giles denies tampering claims

Ashley Giles, the England one-day coach, has vehemently denied accusations made by Bob Willis that England have been tampering with the ball during the Champions Trophy.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Willis insinuated that there was no other reason for the umpires to change the ball part-way through Sri Lanka’s run chase at The Oval on Friday.

“Let’s not beat about the bush – Aleem Dar is on England’s case,” Willis said. “He knows that one individual is scratching the ball for England – who I am not going to name – and that’s why the ball was changed.”

Giles launched a strong denial ahead of England’s crucial final group match against New Zealand, which England must win to be certain of their progression in the tournament.

“We don’t tamper with the ball and I hope we can talk about something else,” he said. “It is disappointing because we have a huge game, a quarter-final must-win, and there are a lot of headlines about the wrong stuff.

“With the situation the other day, the ball was changed because it had gone out of shape. We asked the question, the captain asked that question to the umpires which he has a right to. The ball was changed, the rest is history.”

“People have the right to say what they say, we can’t stop them,” he added. “It sounds boring, but we have to focus on what we want to do. The most important thing is winning cricket matches and not what Bob Willis says.”

Willis, a former England bowler and their second-leading wicket-taker in Tests, went on to say: “Have you ever heard of the batting side complaining about the shape of the ball, or the umpires saying ‘we’re going to change the ball because it’s out of shape’?

“The bowling side change the ball because it’s out of shape because they think it’s gone soft. That’s the reason, pure and simple. How naive does Alastair Cook think we are? The ball was changed because it was out of shape? He didn’t want the ball changed, so why was it changed?”


  1. Sack Bob Willis, if he is going to accuse someone of cheating, at least name them, so they can defend them selves and prove him wrong. England cricket should sue him and he should not appear on tv again

    • Why all the secrecy about who the alleged culprit might be, as it has been widely reported in the past few days which England team member is given the responsibility of shining the ball

    • Well don't be too hasty.This affliction of your Team dates back to the days of Mike Atherton.The simple way to prevent this would be to empty the pockets of English players before the match.

  2. Quite right, Willis always has a huge chip on his shoulder and is being very very cowardly saying "I know who it is but I won't say" If he had any moral backbone and suspected or knew someone was cheating, he should have already reported it. I am guessing that as (to my knowledge) he has not reported it and no investigation has been launched by the ICC, then there is nothing to his defamatory claims.

    Anyway, this is England. Even when we do try and cheat (aka Atherton in the "dirt in the pocket" incident) we are ridiculously unsubtle at it. When we are being unsporting we prefer to do it in other ways, like putting jelly babies on the pitch

  3. Everytime a player puts spital from his mouth whilst chewing gum on the ball is cheating,has is running their hands through gelled/moused/brycreamed hair and then touching the ball without wiping their hands first.Many a player has done it.I remember when Nasser Hussein and Duncon fletcher tried to get the umpires to allow breaking the bails with elbows as a legitimate way of getting a wicket.Johnaathon Trott was trying to adjust field placings whilst fielding in the slips when the bowler was in his run up.That's illegal as well.Clearly Ashley Giles knows whom wWillis is referring to because in the first interview he stated that the accusations were against a well respected team member..I hope Sky don't sack Willis.I love his dry wit and observations.

Comments are closed.