Ashes 2023 – Dukes owner pledges to investigate controversial ball change during Oval Test

The owner of Dukes has pledged to investigate the controversial ball change in Australia’s second innings during their 49-run defeat in the fifth men’s Ashes Test at The Oval, while casting doubt on a theory that a five-year-old replacement ball might have been used.

The ball was changed in the 37th over of Australia’s chase, after Usman Khawaja was hit on the helmet by a Mark Wood bouncer. Khawaja said after Australia’s defeat that he had immediately queried the choice of replacement ball – which looked visibly newer than the previous one – with umpire Kumar Dharmasena.

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, labelled the choice of replacement ball “a huge blunder that needs to be investigated” while Zak Crawley, the England opener, described it as “a good break for us [which] probably made the difference”.

Dilip Jajodia, the owner of British Cricket Limited, the company which manufactures the Dukes ball, told Code Sports: “I’m going to investigate myself, because it affects me … my name is at stake so it’s important they don’t misallege something wrong with the ball.”

Code Sports reported that “whispers have emanated out of the English camp” since the conclusion of the Test suggesting that the ball might have been part of the 2018 or 2019 batches of Dukes, which offered more for seam bowlers, though Jajodia suggested that was unlikely.

“I can’t imagine they would risk putting a ball in there with a different date on it,” Jajodia said. “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, but it’s not likely.”

Ponting was among those who questioned whether a sufficiently broad range of balls had been presented to the umpires to choose a replacement ball. But Jajodia explained that his company supplies balls directly to venues rather than to the ECB or the ICC.

“On this particular occasion, the balls would be done by Surrey,” he said. “Surrey get the supply of balls from us before the season starts and then they start knocking them in, getting them into wear and tear… in my view, they’re probably not doing it that accurately.”

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