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Cricket: English rocked by tamper row

World cricket was this morning waiting to hear from Cricket South Africa to discover whether England may have to answer allegations of ball-tampering.

South Africa raised concerns over "allegations about the ball" during day three of the third Test at Newlands, Cape Town, but are yet to lodge an official complaint.

If they do, match referee Roshan Mahanama will be called in to action and the sport could have another full-blown controversy on its hands.

England last night took the step of officially denying any suggestion of wrongdoing after South Africa had gone public with their concerns.

The storm erupted over TV footage showing England seamer Stuart Broad stopping a straight-drive in the morning session with the sole of his boot.

South Africa subsequently took control of the match and gave themselves an outstanding chance of levelling the series thanks to a record stand of 230 between Graeme Smith (162 not out) and Hashim Amla (95) on the way to 312-2 at stumps.

England coach Andy Flower was taken aback by the affair: "The umpires or match referee haven't said anything to us. That's the first I've heard of it.

"Over the years we have seen a lot of tall fast bowlers stop balls with their feet, so I don't see anything sinister."

The umpires were seen to talk at length to England captain Andrew Strauss as his team made their way back on to the field after lunch.

But Flower pointed out: "It could be all manner of things. I'm not aware of anything. I think it would be wrong to speculate about what they were talking about before we actually know.

"I think you are talking about very isolated incidents. If you are talking about stopping a ball once with your boot and one throw through a session of 80 overs, I think you are being pernickety. Without a doubt, I thought they (South Africa) were very skilful in the way they reverse-swung the ball."

Referring to an unfavourable close-of-play scorecard, however, Flower said: "The guys worked very honestly. They toiled hard, and the South Africans played very well. Conditions for batting seemed to improve."

Flower was speaking after a South Africa spokesman had said: "There have been several queries from the media about various video footage shown today, and certain allegations being made about the ball.

"We have raised our concerns with the match referee about it and we've left it to him to decide if any further action or investigation is necessary."

His opposite number responded, on England's behalf: "We totally refute any suggestions of ball-tampering or malpractice."

An International Cricket Council spokesman subsequently confirmed an official complaint must be lodged before the match referee can respond.

Meanwhile, Australia pulled off a stunning second Test victory over Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground, bowling the tourists out for 139 to win by 36 runs and clinch the series.

Chasing a modest 176 to secure their first win over Australia in 14 years, the tourists collapsed under intense pressure from the baggy greens' attack.

Spinner Nathan Hauritz took 5-53, including an astonishing caught and bowled to remove Mohammad Yousuf, while Mitchell Johnson bowled 3-27.

Doug Bollinger chipped in with two wickets while Peter Siddle bowled his heart out without reward.

The hosts trailed by 206 runs in the first innings but revived their hopes with 381 second-innings runs, thanks to 97 from Shane Watson and a 123-run ninth-wicket partnership between Mike Hussey (134no) and Siddle (38).

Only twice in 132 years have Australia come back from a bigger deficit to snatch victory and the hosts now take an unassailable 2-0 lead into next week's third and final Test in Tasmania.


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