Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting strongly disapproved of the umpires’ decision to change the ball during Australia’s second innings in the fifth Test of the Ashes 2023 series. Ponting highlighted that the replaced ball appeared significantly fresher than the previous one, leading to questions about the umpires’ judgment and the potential impact on the game.
During the fifth Test, openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja formed a 100-run partnership, benefiting from the pitch that offered little assistance to the home team bowlers. However, umpire Joel Wilson, and Kumar Dharmasena changed the ball after it struck Usman Khawaja’s helmet on Day 4, citing that the previous ball was out of shape.
Ricky Ponting expressed his displeasure with the umpires’ decision, suggesting that it required investigation due to the significant discrepancy in the condition of the two balls. He criticized the decision to replace the ball with one that appeared fresher, emphasizing the importance of selecting a replacement that closely resembled the original ball.
“The biggest concern I have is the big discrepancy in the condition of the ball that was chosen to replace the one (out of shape). There’s no way in the world you can even look at those two balls there and say in any way are they comparable,” Ponting told Sky Sports.
“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,” he added.
Ponting questioned whether older-condition balls were available for replacement, pointing out that the umpires deemed some older ones in the box unsuitable. He expressed astonishment at how experienced international umpires could make such an apparent mistake in selecting the replacement ball.
“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 them and threw them back.” Ponting questioned.
The decision to change the ball potentially impacted the game, allowing the Australian openers to build a strong partnership. Ponting believes that the moment was significant in the Test match and raised concerns about the fairness and integrity of the decision-making process.
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“I just cannot fathom how two international umpires that have done that 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, blasé, picked one out of there that they think will be okay to use,” he added.
The Ashes 2023 series between Australia and England concluded with a scoreline of 2-2. The Ben Stokes-led team missed the opportunity to claim a series win, while Australia failed to secure a Test series victory on English soil since 2001.