Ian Baker - South African sour grapes
06 Jan 2010 - 11:01:49
"Ball tampering furore," screamed the front page of Wednesday's Cape Times.This on a day after South Africa had battered England into submission on their best day of the Test series so far.
The hosts should have been celebrating Graeme Smith's quite brilliant century which dramatically swung the series in their favour.
Instead they were concentrating on a half-hearted claim of cheating against the England players. The 'evidence'? TV pictures showed Stuart Broad standing on the ball with no obvious attempt to rough up it while South Africa also raised concerns with the way Jimmy Anderson had handled the ball.
Hardly the sort of stuff that conclusively proves that England have doctored the ball in an attempt to get an advantage.
But it just shows just how perplexed the South Africans are that England have been able to gain reverse swing in the series.
Broad bowled brilliantly in Durban to help England go 1-0 up and England were also right on the money in terms of swinging it at Centurion. They have had more difficulty in terms of getting the ball to move in this current Test at Cape Town.
Coach Mickey Arthur had expressed his surprise that England were able to get movement in the air two days before the match started. And it seems as if the hosts have been keeping a watchful eye over everything that Andrew Strauss's men have been up to.
It strikes of sour grapes and desperation.The cloudy conditions in Durban and other factors, including bizarrely whether the tide was in or out, had an effect in the second Test.
And England had the better of those conditions there - just like South Africa have had in Newlands.
The issue of doctoring the ball is very grey and can leave a lot of wounds.
Mike Atherton was accused of ball tampering against South Africa in 1994 in the infamous 'dirt in the pocket' incident. And Pakistan refused to play on against England at The Oval in 2006 after being docked five penalty runs for altering the condition of the ball.
Where does it all end? Is rubbing the ball on your trouser leg to get extra shine wrong too?
South Africa did not make an official complaint to the match referee but merely pointed out their concerns. To make such allegations without major substance is wrong, discrediting both themselves and the game itself.
IAN BAKER WILL BE BLOGGING FOR CRICKET.CO.UK FROM SOUTH AFRICA THROUGHOUT ENGLAND'S WINTER TOUR