Stuart Broad has defended himself against allegations of ball-tampering, saying he would be playing football in the Premier League if he was that good at working on a ball with his boot. Television footage appeared to show England bowler Broad stepping on the ball with his spikes during the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. Moments later his fellow fast bowler James Anderson was pictured picking at the ball with his nails.
South Africa raised concerns about the incident with the match referee, but did not make a formal complaint and the International Cricket Council said they would take no action against the players. Some observers, however, have criticised the pair, with the former England captain Michael Vaughan claiming the bowlers were deliberately tampering with the ball. "They were lucky to get away without an official reprimand, or even a ban because there was no doubt in my mind that they were trying to change the condition of the ball," he said.
Broad has hit back at the allegations, saying the only thing he could be accused of was laziness. "Ball-tampering? That's astonishing. For one thing, if I was skilled enough to be able to step on the scuffed up side of the ball and know exactly what I was doing to create an unfair advantage with my feet, I would be playing football in the Premier League rather than cricket for England," he said. "My actions in stopping the ball with my boot have been questioned, but I am not the first bowler to stop a ball with his size 12s and I will not be the last.
"It was close to 40 degrees out there in Newlands at the time and, if I was guilty of anything, it was just laziness in not bending down to pick up the ball." Anderson protested his innocence and expressed his disappointment at the comments made by his former captain. "To be caught up in suggestions of ball-tampering was a huge disappointment," he said. "It led to a lot of comment and cast a shadow over me and Stuart Broad when we'd done nothing wrong except being a bit absent-minded and lazy.
"I know my old England captain Michael Vaughan is entitled to his opinion, but I was a little bit hurt by some of the comments he made about me, because I'd like to think he knew me well enough to know I wouldn't do something like that. "I've got a lot of respect for Vaughany as a teammate and as a captain, I learnt an awful lot under his wing in the England side so he knows the sort of player I am.
"I definitely was not altering the ball to try and help us, I was just looking at it and playing with it. There was a tuft of leather that had come up and I wasn't digging in any nails or anything like that into the ball." The controversy over ball-tampering marred England's battle to draw the Test and retain their 1-0 lead going into the fourth and final match of the series, starting on Thursday in Johannesburg.
England saved the Cape Town Test thanks to a dogged 112-run stand for the sixth wicket between Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, who defied the South Africa for five hours and made 78. Bell had scored a big hundred in England's second Test victory at Durban as well and the coach Andy Flower is hoping he can continue getting the substantial scores. "He's done it twice, one to contribute to a win in Durban and here to a draw," said Flower.
"These have been fine contributions, but we are looking for a lot more from him. England have invested a lot with Ian Bell, and this is some of him paying England back." Meanwhile, India will face Sri Lanka in the penultimate group game of the tri-nation tournament in Bangladesh today, hoping to book their spot in the final with a victory. Sri Lanka have won all three of their matches and are already through to Wednesday's final.
India have one win from two games and face Bangladesh on Monday, but they will be keen to settle the issue of the second finalist before that match. * With agencies