England’s limited-overs coach Ashley Giles on Saturday denied his players tamper with the ball in the wake of allegations made by former captain Bob Willis.
Giles spoke on Saturday since Willis claimed the ball was changed during Thursday’s Champions Trophy loss to Sri Lanka because it had been tampered with. “Let’s not beat about the bush — (umpire) Aleem Dar is on England’s case.
He knows that one individual is scratching the ball for England — who I am not going to name — and that’s why the ball was changed,” Willis said on Sky Sports.
Giles strongly denied the accusations, though, and was particularly unhappy they had surfaced ahead of tomorrow's do-or-die Champions Trophy clash with New Zealand.
“We don’t tamper with the ball and I hope we can talk about something else,” Giles told a news conference. “It is disappointing because we have a huge game, a quarter-final, must win, and there are a lot of headlines about the wrong stuff.
With the situation the other day, the ball was changed because it had gone out of shape. We asked the question, the captain asked that question to the umpires which he has a right to. The ball was changed, the rest is history.”
Willis, England’s second all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests, went on to question the reasons given, adding: “Have you ever heard of the batting side complaining about the shape of the ball, or the umpires saying ‘we’re going to change the ball because it’s out of shape’?
“The bowling side change the ball because it’s out of shape because they think it’s gone soft. That’s the reason, pure and simple. How naive does Alastair Cook think we are? The ball was changed because it was out of shape? He didn’t want the ball changed, so why was it changed?”
Giles was far from pleased with what Willis had said, but refused to get drawn into a war of words. “People have the right to say what they say, we can’t stop them,” he added.
“It sounds boring, but we have to focus on what we want to do. The most important thing is winning cricket matches and not what Bob Willis says.”
In reference to Willis’ claim that a particular player was responsible, Giles said: “We play our cricket as hard as anyone else and the headlines are disappointing.”