England were suspicious about Australia ball-tampering during Ashes, says Alastair Cook

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Alastair Cook admits England were “curious” of Australia possibly ball-tampering in the recent Ashes series.

Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been handed bans by Cricket Australia after they came up with a plot to use sandpaper on the ball in their third Test with South Africa last month.

Although they all claimed that was their first instance of ball-tampering, focus has now been put on the Ashes, with television footage since emerging of Bancroft putting sugar in his pocket while Australia’s consistent ability to get reverse swing had England’s bowlers scratching their heads.

Cook, who was part of the side that lost the five-match series 4-0, has admitted that could have been down to the express pace of the Australian attack, but also raised questions of the third Test in Perth.

Asked at a Chance to Shine event in Tunbridge Wells, where he was promoting the launch of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week, whether England suspected Australia of ball-tampering during the Ashes, he replied: “Yes a little bit, certainly in Perth when the outfield was wet with rain they got the ball reversing.

“I didn’t see anything. We have been pretty good at managing the ball to see if we can get it to reverse swing but then there’s the thing with the quicker you bowl the ball it reverse swings more.

“That was the thing in 2005, we had Simon Jones and Freddie (Andrew Flintoff) who were quicker than the Australian bowlers.

“We have to be very careful, we were curious at certain moments but then we couldn’t get the ball up to 90mph where they consistently could.”

Steve Smith breaks down in front of the media.

Steve Smith breaks down in front of the media.

Although the three Australian’s actions in Cape Town were deplored, some sympathy has been given to the length of the sanctions, with Smith and Warner both receiving year-long suspensions.

But Cook says that should be a timely reminder for the game to be played in the right way.

He added: “It’s not for me to comment on punishment, but the whole thing is a reminder that people want to see.

“It’s the same with cycling, that whoever is playing that people play in a fair way. If you try your hardest and there’s no external things that you win or lose that way.

“It’s amazing the public outcry for that.

“Sometimes with the pressure of playing, and it is so important to you and it’s your livelihood, sometimes winning or losing can overtake things.

“It’s wrong for everyone to sit in the cold light of day and criticise because people do make mistakes.

“There have been stories that I’ve heard in the past that have been hearsay that people have done things.

“(Shahid) Afridi bit the ball, that’s not ideal. There has been incidents and we have known it’s gone on but it’s the predetermined thing of it was the bit that caught everyone out.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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England Test skipper Joe Root gives seal of approval to ECB's proposed 100-ball cricket format

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Root has given his backing to the proposed format.

England captain Joe Root says controversial plans for a domestic 100-ball competition could attract a new audience to Test cricket.

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposal to introduce a new format, tentatively titled “the Hundred”, with 15 regular six-ball overs and one 10-ball over, has proved divisive since an announcement last week but the England skipper is on board with the idea.

One of the fundamental aims of the ECB is to simplify the game for a fresh audience, specifically women and children, and Root thinks if the format takes off it could lead to interest in the longer forms of the game.

“It’s going to appeal to a completely new audience and I think that’s great,” Root told the i newspaper. “The more people and kids we can get into sport, the better.

“We’ve got to be very careful we don’t measure it against the other formats… it’s something to gather a new audience and gain interest, not a threat to other formats. As players, working with the ICC (International Cricket Council), we’ve got to make sure the other formats don’t suffer but it has a place in the game and, hopefully, we’ll see that over time.

“There will be people that compare it to Twenty20 and worry it might take away interest from Test cricket, but it’s important to remember it will bring new people to the game.

“It might be someone who didn’t know much about the game before and then goes on to watch a Test match and gets immersed in that. That’s the way I’d like to look at it.”

Root’s predecessor as England captain, Alastair Cook, described the format as “another interesting step for cricket”.

“If you went back to 2003 when the ECB first launched T20 cricket, if social media had been around then I’m sure quite a few people would probably have kicked up the same amount of fuss as they have here,” he told Sky Sports.

“It’s different, it’s exciting. How it all works with the County Championship and Test matches and when it’s played, a lot of that (planning) is still to be done. But I think it’s another interesting step for cricket.

“Cricket has made huge changes over the years and since I’ve started in 2003 – T20 being one of them. Let’s see how it all pans out. Whether I’ll be there to play I don’t know but I’ll certainly be watching it.”

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Cricket debate: Is ECB’s proposed format of 100-balls-a-side a good idea?

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The ECB are set to launch a new limited overs format

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced ambitious plans to launch a new limited-overs tournament code-named ‘The Hundred‘ in 2020.

Featuring eight city-based teams, each side will face exactly 100-balls comprising of 15 six-ball overs and one final super over of ten balls.

Here Sport360‘s No1 cricket writer Ajit Vijaykumar and sports’ journalist Alex Broun debate this latest innovation.

YES – Ajit Vijaykumar

How many more T20 leagues can cricket fans endure? That was the big question that forced the England cricket board to think outside the box while planning for the new city-based competition. The league was earlier expected to be a T20 tournament but with South Africa, Sri Lanka and even Afghanistan planning one for themselves, it would have been one among numerous others fighting for scraps left behind by the big boys – IPL and Big Bash. So they have come up with a new format where each innings lasts 100 balls. Brilliant.

After Test, ODI, T20, T10 and five-overs-a-side matches (Hong Kong Sixes), is it fair to expect fans to embrace another format? Well, that’s not the point of this debate. Cricket calendar crossed the saturation point a long time back with international cricket and T20 leagues running almost simultaneously round the year. Since everyone is in it for the money (seriously, who isn’t?), the England board has every right to strengthen its finances and pull in the millions that will feed the system and sustain first-class cricket and Tests – the ugly ducklings of the cricketing world.

Make no mistake, only those cricket boards with more than a few million dollars to spare can afford to play Test cricket and sustain first-class matches.

Which is why an innovation like 100-ball cricket is superb. On paper, it’s a product corporates should embrace because the rules of the game will have to be changed to accommodate a 10-ball last over. That’s something that can add a whole new level of drama which no other platform offers at the moment.

While earlier there were some concerns as to how England will differentiate it’s franchise league in a market saturated with T20 tournaments, including it’s own T20 Blast, a completely new format should make it easier for investors to get the pen and chequebook out.

Whether it will benefit the game of cricket is another debate. However, for the moment credit should be given to the England board who realised their folly at not capitalising on a product they invented – T20 – and are now attempting to remind the world they have a few tricks up their sleeve.

NO – Alex Broun

It’s hard to think of a more obvious and transparent attempt at overkill than the ECB’s new 100-ball plans, including a staggeringly stupefyingly stupid 10-ball last over.

The IPL, and lately the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia, have had great success with the T20 format and the reason why England now want to tinker with that number is dumb-founding.

How many variants of limited overs do you want?

First there was 50-over One-Day matches, then T20, then T10 (ten overs), and then Sixes (which is actually five-overs). What next – one over games?

Can you imagine turning up to Wimbledon to watch Roger Federer take on Rafael Nadal in a one-game tennis match? With these latest “innovations” cricket is heading in that direction.

The reasoning is the ECB need a point of difference to other T20 leagues around the world but as the IPL and BBL have proven – do the basics right and there is very little that can beat a good T20 match as sporting entertainment.

By basics I mean a wicket with very little lateral movement where the ball comes on to the bat (the latter being crucial), some off-field entertainment and the best players in the world – which equals spectacular entertainment whether you are at the ground or watching on TV.

Indeed much of the attraction of the IPL is watching the amazing Indian fans emotions rise and fall on the performance of their team.

One minute they are up on their feet as their side hits a six or takes a wicket, the next they are choking back tears as their team’s fortunes take a nosedive.

The other reason given by the ECB is it makes it easier for families because the game will be quicker with one game starting at 14:30 and the other at 18:30.

Guess what the match times are currently for the IPL? 14:30 and 18:30!

You are essentiually taking three-overs off per team – 20-minutes in total – are you saying that makes a difference?

And don’t start me on the 10-ball final over – what bowler in the world can get through that?  Why not an eight-ball final over? Now that would be innovative. Oops! Tried that.

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