England head coach Trevor Bayliss revealed his side are not under any investigation over allegations of ball-tampering and believes the claims are another example of “Pommie-bashing” in Australia.
Controversy arose on the penultimate day of the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne when several commentators drew attention to television footage which appeared to show England seamer James Anderson rubbing a thumb nail on the ball.
Using a thumb or fingernail in an effort to scuff up one side of the ball which could encourage reverse swing is strictly prohibited and the tourists were warned by the umpires about throwing it on the bounce to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
However, Bayliss said Anderson is not under suspicion from the umpires and pointed out England’s leading wicket-taker of all-time had been attempting to clean the shiny side of the ball.
He said: “As soon as I did see it, I went to the umpires to find out what was going on. There was absolutely nothing to worry about. You’re able to clean the ball and that’s what we were doing.
“He was cleaning the ball and if he was trying to rough it up, he was trying to rough the wrong side up, that was the shiny side his thumb was on. The umpires have got absolutely no problem with it at all.”
Former Australia international Shane Warne was among those to speculate on the drama as England all-but secured at least a draw at the MCG, ensuring they would avoid a second successive whitewash Down Under.
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.
“We knew when we came here it was going to be 24 million versus 11, we’ve just got to laugh it off as part of the game. You’ve got to put up with it.”
Australia are still 61 runs in arrears after closing a rain-shortened day on 103 for two although their two key batsmen David Warner (40not) and captain Steve Smith (25no) are still at the crease.
The hosts collapsed from 260-3 to 327 all out in their first innings, so Bayliss remains positive England can seal a consolation win in a series in which they are trailing 3-0.
He said: “The first innings we took six or seven wickets for not a lot of runs, so it is possible.
“Obviously the two best Australian batsmen are at the crease at the moment so they’ll be difficult to get through, but if we can do that and put some pressure on the rest of the batting line-up, pressure can do funny things.”
Alastair Cook became the first England player to carry his bat in a Test match for 20 years after Anderson fell to the very first ball on day four in a total of 491 all out.
England’s all-time record run-scorer never got a chance to add to his unbeaten 244, No 11 Anderson immediately caught at short-leg off Pat Cummins (4-117), before Australia had to start again.
Chris Woakes and Anderson nipped out a wicket each before lunch - but Warner and Smith then presented a stoic, united front to take the score to 103-2 when rain brought a close after 43.5 overs.
It means there will be a possible 98 overs to bowl in tomorrow’s final day.
Cook is just the eighth Englishman to carry his bat and the first since Michael Atherton against New Zealand at Christchurch in 1997.