The independent voice of cricket

Ashes 2023

‘A huge blunder’ – Ricky Ponting says umpires’ choice of replacement ball ‘needs to be investigated’ | Ashes 2023

Ricky Ponting ball change
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Controversy once again erupted on the final day of the 2023 Ashes series, after England took three wickets in the morning session following a ball change late on the evening session of day four, with the ball in question appearing far newer than its predecessor.

England were unable to take a wicket in the fourth innings yesterday and Australia reached 135-0 at the close, chasing 384 to win the series outright. Mark Wood hit Usman Khawaja on the helmet with a short delivery in the penultimate over of the day, and the ball sustained some damage. As a result, the umpires decided to change the ball, and selected one from the box of differently aged balls available.

In comparison shots however, the ball selected looked much shinier and newer than the one England had been bowling with before. There had been very little movement for England’s seamers on day four, but on day five, David Warner, Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne were all dismissed within seven overs of each other.


Having already questioned the contrast in the condition of the new balls on commentary, Ricky Ponting doubled-down during the Lunch interval.

“There’s, there’s no way in the world you can even look at those two balls there and say in any way they are comparable,” said Ponting. “At the end of the day, if you are gonna change the ball, you want to make sure you get it as close as you possibly can to the one that you’re changing it from.

“Now if you have a look in that box, there weren’t too many older condition balls in there. But if you have a look at that, there were some older ones that were picked up. The umpires looked at them and threw them back. I just cannot fathom how two international umpires that have done that a lot of times can actually get that so wrong.

“That is a huge moment in this game, potentially a huge moment in the Test match and something that I think actually has to be investigated, whether there was the right condition balls in the box or the umpires have just blaze, picked one out of there that they thought would be ok to use. But there’s a perfect storm with it as well… Double the amount of movement this morning from yesterday afternoon, seam movement and swing. I think it’s a huge blunder that, as I said, needs to be investigated.”

Others on the Sky Sports punditry team were in agreement with Ponting’s assessment.

“I mean, if you look at those pictures, the picture paints 1,000 words they say and I guess this is a great example of that,” said Dinesh Karthik. “You know, when you look at how it’s behaved it’s one thing, but also the conditions have helped, but it’s been very hard to bat on here this morning and some high quality bowling from Woakes. But just look at that I mean it’s chalk and cheese.”

Nasser Hussain said: “All credit to the England bowlers and I’m sure Ricky and Dinesh will agree with this, whatever you say about the ball and the ball change, which was ludicrous in my opinion, you’ve still got to use those conditions and England have in Broad and Woakes. Good choice by the skipper to start with those two in these conditions with that ball, you’ve still got to bowl it perfectly and they did. They were quite brilliant, Broad and Woakes in particular, followed by Wood… That was tough batting and exceptional bowling.”

There was also significant reaction online, with several former and current players weighing in on the controversy. On Channel 9’s coverage, Callum Ferguson called the decision a “disgrace”, while Glenn Maxwell also wrote a tongue in cheek Tweet.

You can bet on the 2023 Ashes with our Match Centre partners, bet365.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99