Ricky Ponting demands investigation as Australia star details chat with umpire

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Australia opener Usman Khawaja (Image: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Australia opener Usman Khawaja (Image: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australia opener Usman Khawaja has echoed Ricky Ponting's comments about the ball change during the final Ashes Test, revealing he immediately questioned the umpires choice of a replacement.

In the penultimate over on day four, Khawaja was struck on the helmet by a Mark Wood bouncer and the ball went out of shape, prompting umpires Joel Wilson and Kumar Dharmasena to change it. The replacement ball then offered England's bowlers much more assistance on day five as they bowled Australia out to win the game and draw the series.

Khawaja and fellow opener David Warner had successfully blunted the old ball on day four, reaching 135-0 at the close. However, it took England just four overs to make their first breakthrough on day five as Chris Woakes got Warner caught behind for 60, before pinning Khawaja lbw for 72 in his very next over.

England went on to wrap up a dramatic 49-run win with the retiring Stuart Broad taking the final wicket. However, there was some controversy about the ball change, with ex-Australia captain Ponting branding it a "huge blunder" and claiming it "needs to be investigated".

And Khawaja says he hopes the ICC can "learn" from it, claiming umpire Wilson told him they chose that ball as "there was nothing else in the box". He told cricket.com.au : "I walked straight up to Kumar and said straight away, 'That ball is nothing like the one we've been playing with'.

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"I could see writing on it. It felt harder than any ball I've faced throughout this whole Ashes series to be honest. I've opened the batting against the new ball every single time and it just hit my bat so hard. I know Woody was bowling, but I've faced Woody before.

"I said, 'You've gone from an old, reverse (swinging) ball to a brand-new ball'. It looked like it was about eight overs old, swinging conventionally and hitting the bat hard. So I actually asked Joel again today, 'How are we using this ball right now? It's so new.'

Ricky Ponting demands investigation as Australia star details chat with umpireEx-Australia captain Ponting felt the umpires made a "huge blunder" when they changed the ball (Sky Sports)

"And he said, 'Look, there was nothing else in the box'. Personally I think if there's nothing else in the box that can match the ball you have, you can't really change it. It's a bit frustrating as a batting unit because we worked our backsides off for 36 overs and then they changed the ball.

"As an opener you work so hard to get through to there and then you're facing a new ball again. "That ball was 95 overs in and still swinging, hooping and bouncing. Unfortunately that's the hand you get dealt sometimes in cricket.

"It may not feel fair, but hopefully there's some learnings out of it and hopefully the ICC can look at it and try to improve that ball changing process." An ICC spokesperson said: "We do not comment on on-field decisions. As you would expect, umpiring performance is continually evaluated."

Matthew Cooper

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