Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has called for the ball change which occurred during Australia's second innings in the ongoing fifth Ashes Test at The Oval to be investigated, a move which he termed as a ‘huge blunder’.
After Mark Wood hit Usman Khawaja on the helmet with a bouncer on the first delivery of the 37th over, umpires Joel Wilson and Kumar Dharmasena changed the ball, citing that it had gone out of shape.
But the replacement ball looked newer than the previous ball, as Khawaja, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne were dismissed in quick succession in Australia’s chase of 384.
"The biggest concern I have is the big discrepancy in the condition of the ball that was chosen to replace the one (that had gone out of shape). 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 that you get it right, so (you make it) as close as you possibly can to the one that you're changing it from."
"Now if you have a look in that box, there weren't too many older-condition balls in there. There were some older ones that were picked up, the umpires looked at that and threw them back," said Ponting on Sky Sports.
As ball-tracking data during the broadcast suggested the ball had more significant movement post the change on Day Five than on Day Four, Ponting was left fuming over the change which he feels the umpires didn’t carry out finely.
"I just cannot fathom how two international umpires that have done it a lot of times before can get that so wrong. That is a huge moment in this game, potentially a huge moment in the Test match, and something I think actually has to be investigated: whether there was the right condition of balls in the box, or the umpires have just, blase, picked one out of there that they think will be okay to use."
"The conditions were perfect for bowling this morning, let's say that. The conditions were better for bowling this morning. But what I saw last night, that ball there, I'll put my hand up and say I've got absolutely no doubt at all that that ball would not have done anywhere near as much as what that one did this morning."
"Double the amount of movement this morning from yesterday afternoon, seam movement and swing. I think it's a huge blunder that needs to be investigated," Ponting added.
Veteran India wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik too agreed with Ponting’s views, especially when the pictures of balls used were compared. “I mean, if you look at those pictures, the picture paints 1,000 words they say and I guess this is a great example of that.”
“You know, when you look at how it’s behaved it’s one thing, but also the conditions have helped, but it’s been very hard to bat on here this morning and some high-quality bowling from Woakes. But just look at that I mean it’s chalk and cheese.”
Former Australia cricketer Callum Ferguson was left unhappy over the ball change made by the umpires. “I think it is actually disgraceful they have allowed a ball this new into the game at the stage they did. It made it very difficult.”
“Those two balls are so, so different. That’s almost a new ball. They might as well unwrap a new one. I find it staggering they ended up with that ball.”
Glenn Maxwell, who is part of Australia's limited-overs set-up, tweeted shortly after the first wicket fall: "Beware the 2nd new #ashes".