The controversy around the ball change during Day 4 of the fifth Test of The Ashes 2023 at the Oval doesn’t seem to stop. The manufacturers of the Dukes Ball have decided to launch an investigation into it. Notably, the ball was changed late on Day 4 as it got out of shape after Australian opener Usman Khawaja was struck on the helmet by a bouncer from Mark Wood.
Following that, on-field umpires Joel Wilson and Kumar Dharmasena handed a different ball to England. The change worked wonders for the hosts. Woakes managed to break the opening stand and brought England back into the game which eventually led to their victory.
Amid the controversy, the International Cricket Council (ICC) released a statement saying that they don’t comment on the decision made by the umpires but confirmed that the balls are preselected at the start of every match and the officials choose a replacement at their own discretion. However, with the talks of the ball in question being five years old, Dilip Jajodia, the owner of British Cricket Balls Ltd, manufacturers of the Dukes ball, has confirmed he will look into it.
“I can’t imagine they would risk putting a ball in there with a different date on it. Frankly the match referee should be on top of it. We do bang that number in quite hard, so even if the gold comes off the ball is imprinted. It wouldn’t be easy to get rid of it. I’m not saying it’s impossible (it was a 2018 or 2019 ball), but it’s not likely. I’m going to investigate myself, because it affects me … my name is at stake,” Jajodia was quoted as saying by News Corp.
Australian opener Usman Khawaja was quite vocal about the changed ball behaving completely differently after the game. Khawaja revealed that he even mentioned the same to the on-field umpires.
It looked like it was about eight overs old: Usman Khawaja
“I walked straight up to Kumar and said straight away, ‘That ball is nothing like the one we’ve been playing with’. “I said, ‘You’ve gone from an old, reverse (swinging) ball to a brand-new ball’. It looked like it was about eight overs old, swinging conventionally and hitting the bat hard. So I actually asked Joel again today, ‘How are we using this ball right now? It’s so new.’ And he said, ‘Look, there was nothing else in the box’,” Khawaja was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
Despite the controversy, the fifth Test ended in a thrilling manner. Stuart Broad got the last two wickets of Australia to sign off from his career in style. Courtesy of England’s win, the series ended in a 2-2 draw. However, Australia retained the Ashes having won it in the last edition in 2021-22.