England coach Trevor Bayliss has dismissed allegations of ball-tampering in the fourth Ashes Test as nothing more than a new example of “Pommie-bashing”.
Bayliss said he raced into the umpires’ room as soon as he saw television headlines about his team’s handling of the ball at the MCG, and was immediately told the tourists had “absolutely nothing to worry about”.
The controversy was fed by close-up pictures of England seamer James Anderson reportedly cleaning the ball – as he is entitled to if mud or dirt has stuck to it during play – as well as the reaction of a succession of Australian pundits.
Bayliss told BT Sport: “We’ve had a good couple of days, and there hasn’t been a lot of positive pressure from their point of view – so there’s been a bit of ‘Pommie-bashing’ there.
“We knew when we came here it was going to be 24 million versus 11. We’ve just got to laugh it off as part of the game. You’ve got to put up with it.”
After a rain-shortened fourth day, Joe Root’s team remained in with a chance of pushing for a consolation win. At the very least, they are highly unlikely to lose again and appear to have averted the threat of a second successive Ashes whitewash Down Under.
Australia reached a vulnerable 103 for two when play was halted, still 61 runs behind after Alastair Cook’s double-century underpinned England’s first-innings 491.
The limited action meant the Anderson footage was inevitably going to be placed under the microscope, and former Australia players Michael Slater, Michael Hussey and Shane Warne were among those who offered an opinion on what England’s record wicket-taker might have been doing with the ball.
Asked if such comments annoyed him, Bayliss said: “I haven’t heard what they said, but they were players once too.
“That’s all I’ll say.”
Both teams have been spoken to during the match about the practice of throwing the ball in on the bounce from the outfield to try to scuff it up in a bid to aid reverse swing, but it has been confirmed there will be no mention of that, or Anderson’s attempts to clean it, in the match referee’s report.
Bayliss added: “It’s a beat-up. As soon as I saw the headlines, I raced into the umpires and said I’d just seen some headlines on Channel 9 News.
“They must have already seen it, and Kumar (Dharmasena) said to me straight away: ‘Don’t worry about it – it’s absolutely nothing’.
“His words were that it was a ‘beat-up’, and nothing to worry about.”
As for the stills of Anderson with the ball, Bayliss points out that if the bowler had been scratching it in search of reverse swing he mistakenly had his thumb on the shiny side of the ball, rather than the rough side.
“I did see that footage – (and) if he was trying to scratch it, he was scratching the wrong side for it to get reverse, so I’m quite sure that wasn’t the case.
“You’re allowed to clean the ball, and Kumar said he did say to both sides: ‘Look, I’ve no problem with (that)’.
“He’d like them to do it in front of (the umpires), so they can see there is nothing untoward going on.”
Australia all-rounder Mitch Marsh indicated the home team have no complaints on any score.
“There were no comments made in the changing rooms,” he said.
“I haven’t seen anything inappropriate.”
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