Dukes ball owner initiates internal probe over ball change in Oval Test in Ashes 2023

In a recent turn of events, the Dukes ball owner, Dilip Jajodia, has pledged to personally investigate the contentious ball change during Australia's second innings in the fifth men's Ashes Test at The Oval.

This decision came after Australia suffered a 49-run defeat, raising eyebrows and sparking debates in the cricketing community.

The ball was replaced in the 37th over after Australian batsman Usman Khawaja was struck on the helmet by a delivery from England's Mark Wood.

Khawaja, post-match, had expressed his reservations about the replacement ball, which appeared noticeably newer than its predecessor. He shared his concerns with umpire Kumar Dharmasena, stating, “As soon as they changed that ball, I knew straightaway this ball is very different. I went straight up to Kumar and said ‘how old is this ball you've given them because it feels like it's about eight overs old.'”

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“So I said to the boys even coming into today to be careful, this new ball, it's going to be tricky. It's going to be a lot harder than that other ball. Some things you can't control in this game. It was disappointing for us because I felt like we had a real stranglehold on that game.”

Ricky Ponting, the legendary former Australian captain, didn't hold back his thoughts, labeling the ball switch as “a huge blunder that needs to be investigated.” England opener Zak Crawley also weighed in, suggesting that the change was “a good break for us [which] probably made the difference.”

Dukes ball owner
Photo by Icon Sport

Dukes ball owner initiates investigation

Jajodia, the owner of British Cricket Limited, which manufactures the Dukes ball, told CODE Sports, “I'm going to investigate myself, because it affects me … my name is at stake so it's important they don't misallege something wrong with the ball.” He further dismissed rumors suggesting that the ball might have been from the 2018 or 2019 batches, which were known to favor seam bowlers. Jajodia emphasized, “I can't imagine they would risk putting a ball in there with a different date on it.”

The controversy has also brought to light the process of ball selection.

The Dukes ball owner Jajodia clarified that his company supplies balls directly to venues, not the ECB or the ICC. “On this particular occasion, the balls would be done by Surrey,” he explained.

“Surrey get the supply of balls from us before the season starts and then they start knocking them in, getting them into wear and tear… in my view, they're probably not doing it that accurately.”

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Usman Khawaja, who ended the series as Australia's top scorer, voiced his displeasure over the ball change. He remarked on the distinct difference in the ball's impact, saying, “I've opened in every single innings this Ashes series and I haven't felt the ball hit my bat as hard as that ball felt when it hit my bat.”

Ponting, during a break, expressed his disbelief at the umpires' decision, questioning the selection of the replacement ball. He commented on Sky Sports, “I just cannot fathom how two international umpires that have done that a lot of times before can get that so wrong.”

England's assistant coach, Marcus Trescothick, acknowledged the noticeable difference in the ball's hardness, while Glenn Maxwell, part of Australia's limited-overs team, took to Twitter to caution, “Beware the 2nd newy #ashes.”

The boys could sense the ball was making a different sound off the bat,” Trescothick said. “Immediately, there's a bit more life in it. Balls seem to have gone very soft, very fast in this game – and this series. Both captains have tried to change them on numerous occasions.”

The ICC, when approached for a comment by ESPNCricinfo, chose to remain tight-lipped, stating that they “do not comment on on-field decisions.”

As the cricketing world awaits the outcome of Jajodia's internal investigation, the debate over the ball change continues to dominate discussions after an enthralling Ashes.


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India