A soggy fourth day in which only 44.1 overs were bowled, Alastair Cook broke the record for an opener carrying his bat with an unbeaten 244 and two Australian wickets fell, suddenly became abuzz with talk of tampering when Channel 9 showed footage of Jimmy Anderson running his fingernail down the cross-seam of the Kookaburra ball. "As soon as I saw the headlines, I raced into the umpires and those were their words actually, "nothing to worry about, it's a beat-up, you're absolutely fine".
Coach Trevor Bayliss dismissed suggestions that England tampered with the ball in the fourth Ashes Test against Australia in Melbourne. "He'd like them to do it in front of the umpire", Bayliss said. His co-commentator, Michael Slater, added: "That's interesting, you can't get your nail into the ball".
Bayliss added: 'We've had a good couple of days and there hasn't been a lot of positive pressure from their point of view so there's been a bit of Pommie-bashing there, we're used to that I suppose. Once it gets a few marks on it you hope it starts to reverse. "There might be a little bit of a 'please explain" there for Jimmy Anderson. That's as much as I know.
"I spoke to Kumar Dharmasena and he said to me that with a bit of rain out there, there was some mud on the ball and you are allowed to clean the ball".More news: Earnest Partners LLC Invests $69.81 Million in Darling Ingredients Inc (DAR)
The story was picked up by several media outlets in Australia including the news arm of Cricket Australia's official website. "You've got to laugh it off and put up with it", Bayliss told The Telegraph.
Australian women's team wicketkeeper and Mitchell Starc's wife, Alyssa Healy said the match referee should take an interest in the entire affair.
England and Australia have been warned about throwing the ball into the turf in an attempt to change its condition, something which Bayliss says "every team in the world" does.
"When you do anything to the ball besides shining it, (you should) make sure you go to the umpire (and show him what you want to do)".More news: Rafael Nadal out of Brisbane
Bayliss is one of the most laid-back coaches in world cricket but he knows how a ball-tampering row erupted in Australia previous year when South Africa captain Faf Du Plessis was caught on camera rubbing saliva on the ball while sucking a sweet and wanted to quickly check with the umpires if there was anything going on.
"From what I have seen I don't think there is a great deal in it". The umpires have got absolutely no problem with it at all'. A bowling team would want to rough up the other side to increase the likelihood of swing through the air.
The practice of using the abrasive centre-wicket block to help rough up the ball is frowned upon but widely used.
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However, on a tour that has already featured head-butts, beer throwing, matchfixing allegations and a sledging row, a ball-tampering rumpus was the missing incident on the series bingo card.