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‘Like-for-like’ Ball Replacement Changes England’s Fortunes, Commentators Find it ‘Newer’

Last Updated: July 31, 2023, 17:55 IST

London, United Kingdom (UK)

England players celebrate and (inset) the two balls (AP and Twitter)

England players celebrate and (inset) the two balls (AP and Twitter)

A change in the ball promoted a change in fortunes for England as the commentators said the two are a ‘contrast to the conditions’.

England got the rub of the green after a ball change during the fifth day of the fifth Test against Australia at The Oval on Monday.

At the start of play, the ball was not swining for the English bowlers as the Australian openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner racked in the run in their opening partnership.

But when Khawaja copped a nasty blow, umpires decided to change the ball, because it had lost its shape, according to report.

A like-for-like replacement was called.

The very next ball swung and the commentators were not happy.

“It certainly looks a lot newer than the one they changed from,” Australian cricket legend Ricky Ponting said on th mic.

“Look at how much writing is on the side of that ball … that is a huge contrast to the conditions of the two Dukes balls.”

Former Test opener Mark Taylor added: “It really pinged off the bat. It even sounds harder.”

Chris Woakes went on to remove the Australia openers to revive England’s hopes of a series-levelling win. Woakes, on an overcast morning and with a pitch freshened by rain — classic English conditions for swing and seam bowling — removed both batsmen in a burst of two wickets for one run in seven balls to reduce the tourists to 141-2.

They resumed on 135-0, with Warner 58 not and Khawaja unbeaten on 69, looking marginal favourites to complete a 3-1 series win and a first Ashes campaign triumph in England since 2001.

Woakes made the breakthrough that England so desperately needed when a good-length ball, angled across Warner, nipped off the seam and took the outside edge to give wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow a simple catch.

Warner was out for a well-made 60 and it was not long before Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the series, followed him.

Khawaja was lbw to Woakes for 72 after being caught on the crease in front of middle and leg stumps by a full-length delivery.

He reviewed in the hope the ball had pitched outside leg stump, but replays upheld umpire Joel Wilson’s initial decision.

For all the fine start to their run-chase, history is against Australia.

If they reach their target, it will be the eighth-highest fourth-innings total to win any Test and the second-highest in England, behind Australia’s 404-3 at Headingley in 1948.

It would also be a new ground record — the highest successful fourth-innings chase in a Test at The Oval is England’s 263-9 against Australia way back in 1902.

Australia, as the holders, are already assured of retaining the Ashes at 2-1 up in the series.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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