Usman Khawaja, a batsman for Australia, was left to regret a “frustrating” ball change that he claimed played a crucial part in England’s fightback to win the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval. Khawaja believed that the alteration had a key impact in England’s ability to win the match.
The visitors began the last day of the match on Monday with a score of 135-0, needing only 249 more runs to accomplish the formidable win goal of 384.
However, England’s Chris Woakes struck again early on, grabbing two wickets in seven balls as he removed both David Warner (60) and Khawaja (72) after their excellent opening partnership. Woakes took both wickets in the first over.
while compared to how it behaved on the fourth day, the ball looked to move substantially more while it was in the air and when it was off the surface.
And although overhead circumstances and a rain-freshened pitch may have contributed to make batting conditions more difficult, a change of ball may have been a role as well. This change was brought about after England fast bowler Mark Wood struck Khawaja on the helmet late on Sunday.
Under these conditions, the on-field umpires are tasked with selecting a replacement ball that is in a condition comparable to that of the ball that is being thrown out.
However, images from television revealed that the replacement ball was substantially fresher than the old ball, and that there did not seem to be one of the replacement balls in the box that had the same amount of wear and tear as the original ball for the umpires to choose from.
“I have no idea what is taking place.”
“I walked straight up to Kumar (Dharmasena, the umpire), and I said straightaway, ‘That ball looks nothing like the one we were playing with.'” Khawaja said to cricket.com.au, “I can see writing on it,” after the Australian team was bowled out for a total of 334, resulting in a win for England by 49 runs.
“It felt harder than any ball I’ve faced in this Ashes series – and I’ve opened the batting against the new ball every single time,” said Khawaja, who finished the five-Test campaign with the most runs scored for either team with 496.
“I replied, ‘I don’t know what’s going on – you’ve gone from an old ball that swings backwards to a brand-new ball,’ because I don’t know what’s going on.
“Personally, I believe that if there is no other ball in the box that can match the ball you have, you really can’t change it. That’s just my opinion.”
“As a batting unit, it’s a little bit frustrating because we sweated our asses off for 36 overs, and then they changed the ball,” said the captain of the team.
“As an opener, you put in a lot of effort to get to that point, and once you do, you’re faced with a brand new ball.”
Khawaja continued by expressing his hope that the International Cricket Council would take notice of what had transpired and by stating, “Unfortunately, that’s the hand you get dealt sometimes in cricket.”
“It might not seem fair, but hopefully the ICC can gain some insight from it and look into that ball so that they can change the process.”
Due to the drew series, Australia was able to retain their position as holders of the Ashes.
However, due to the fact that both teams participated in the same campaign, Australia is still winless in the Ashes series in England in the last 22 years.
Ricky Ponting, a former captain of Australia, was certain that the alteration in the ball had been a deciding factor in the match that took place at The Oval.
“There is no way in the world you can even look at those two balls there and say any way that they are comparable,” Ponting said in an interview with Sky Sports.
“That is a really significant point in the game. And this is something that, in my opinion, has to be looked at.”