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Ricky Ponting calls for investigation into Ashes-defining moment as England level series with Australia 2-2

Ricky Ponting calls for investigation into Ashes-defining moment as England level series with Australia 2-2

Read Time:4 Minute, 58 Second

A drama-filled final day of an enthralling Ashes series has been marred by the impact of a controversial ball change late on Day 4.

Just when Australia thought they would leave the UK with a series victory for the first time since 2001, England bowled the Aussies out for 334 at The Oval to win the fifth and final Test and draw the series level at 2-2.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Ashes series ends in a draw.

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Needing to chase down 384 to pull off an epic win, Australia had given themselves every chance of rewriting the history books when openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja finished Day 4 with an unbeaten stand of 0-135 on what looked like a docile wicket with little sideways movement in the air and off the pitch.

That was, of course, until a pivotal moment late on Day 4 that has Australian great Ricky Ponting seething.

Khawaja was hit on the helmet by England speedster Mark Wood near the close of play on the fourth day’s play, which prompted a lengthy delay.

As per ICC rules, the Aussie opener had to have his helmet changed — but there was another cause for delay.

Complaining that the ball had lost its shape following the brutal collision with Khawaja’s helmet, England had the ball changed.

Umpires Joel Wilson and Kumar Dharmasena’s choice from a box of varyingly aged balls changed the entire complexion of the game.

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The umpires choosing a new ball to use after the first ball lost its shape. Credit: Sky Sports

The changed ball was considerably newer, which Ponting noticed immediately.

“It certainly looks a lot newer than the one they changed from,” he said at the time.

“Look at how much writing is on the side of that ball.

“That is a huge contrast to the conditions to the two Dukes balls.”

With 11 balls left in the day’s play and conditions still heavily in favour of the batters, the changed ball had little impact in the dying stages of Day 4. But right from ball one on the final day, the ‘new’ ball started talking.

“This is a complete contrast to what we saw bowling conditions-wise yesterday,” Ponting said on Day 5.

“It has got to be this change of ball. There was absolutely nothing happening; Australia dominated. Totally different this morning, that’s for sure.”

Ricky Ponting noticed the changed ball was newer straight away. Credit: Sky Sports/Nine/Getty

Warner and Khawaja, who had looked comfortable at the crease on the penultimate day, suddenly found the going tough out in the middle, both falling to Chris Woakes for the addition of just six runs to the total.

Wood then soon had Marnus Labuschagne’s scalp for just 13 and the match was swung back in the hosts’ favour.

Australia battled on, and handy contributions from Steve Smith (54), Travis Head (43), Alex Carey (28) and tail-ender Todd Murphy (18) were nearly enough to secure a meritorious 3-1 series victory, but the English were inexorable.

From Head’s dismissal at 4-264, Australia collapsed sensationally to lose 7-70 and cough up the Test match from what looked like a dominant position.

Speaking during the lunch break on Day 5, Ponting called for an investigation into the ball change controversy.

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“We actually spoke about it last night,” he said on Sky Sports.

“The biggest concern I have is the big discrepancy in the condition of the ball that was chosen (as a replacement); there’s no way in the world you can even look at those two balls there and say in any way they are comparable.

“At the end of the day, if you are going to change the ball, you want to make sure you get it right, so it’s as close as you possibly can to the one that you’re changing it from.

“There weren’t too many older condition balls in there – there were some older ones that were picked up, they threw them back.

“I cannot fathom how two international umpires that have done this so many times before, have got this so wrong.

“That is a huge moment in this game, potentially a huge moment in the Test match, and something I think has to be investigated.

“Whether there were the right condition balls in the box, or whether the umpires have gone and blasé, picked one out of there.

“It was a perfect storm; conditions were perfect for bowling this morning but that ball … I’ve got no doubt at all, that ball would not have done anywhere near as much as (the changed ball) this morning.

“Double the amount of movement from this morning, seam movement and swing. I think it’s a huge blunder that, as I said, needs to be investigated.”

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Ben Stokes clears up confusion over England and Australia players going separate ways after Ashes finale Previous post Ben Stokes clears up confusion over England and Australia players going separate ways after Ashes finale
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