Ravi Bopara's match-winning performance for Auckland against Central Districts in the New Zealand Cricket one-day competition in Palmerston North has been marred by CD coach Dermot Reeve's claim that the England import tampered with the ball.
Reeve, himself a former England cricketer, said he witnessed Bopara picking at the seam in order to get the ball to reverse-swing during CD's failed run-chase. Bopara, who had earlier scored a century, claimed 1 for 51 in 10 overs of medium-pace.
"I would take an oath and swear on my children's lives, that I saw Ravi Bopara using his nails on the ball to help it swing," Reeve told the Dominion Post.
Bopara's coach Paul Strang denied the claim. "It was a windy day, the ball does funny things," Strang said. "None of these concerns have been addressed to me. I think it might be sour grapes from one end."
Reeve was not happy with Strang's denial. "What Strang is saying is ridiculous. A windy day? I know 100% the ball was tampered with," Reeve said. "I had the binoculars on him and I saw his nails on the ball on several occasions.
"When I spoke to the umpires, they said 'unless we actually see somebody putting their nails in or doing something to the ball, how can we prove it'? Unless an umpire has got the b**** to stop Bopara in his run-up and just say 'give me the ball right then', he'll see a raised quarter seam, causing reverse swing."
Reeve did not find support from his side's captain Jamie How, who said he did not notice anything out of the ordinary when he was batting and that any swing he encountered was "part of the game".
This is the second time Reeve has been in the news in recent times, after having accused Auckland and Northern Districts of collusion in order to contrive a result in their controversial Plunket Shield encounter earlier this month.