Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey has raised questions about the legitimacy of England's methods for gaining reverse-swing, and hinted that one of the home side's bowling trump cards for the Ashes may be pushing the rules' boundaries.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the ability of James Anderson and the other English bowlers to get the ball to reverse early was crucial in their 48-run ICC Champions Trophy win over Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday.
Stating that it was even more suspicious as South African and Pakistan bowlers had struggled for the same effect at the same ground in similar conditions just two days later, Bailey said that England's reverse swing methods should be monitored as they had a smooth run with it during the Saturday game.
However, Australia's national selector John Inverarity did not share Bailey's concerns, saying that he did not notice England doing anything illegal and added that the team was very skilled at reverse bowling and had executed the method very well in the Saturday game.
Noting that Australian suspicions are nothing new, journalist Derek Pringle stated that reverse-swing should be even harder to achieve under new 50-over laws, where there is a new ball at each end, adding that when England regained the Ashes in 2005, after a hiatus of 16 years, a crucial part of their success was reverse-swing.
Labelling Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook as the chief ball handlers for England, Pringle further said that although Australia never complained officially, they were suspicious of the way England used glucose-laden saliva, from sucking mints, to get one side of the ball smooth and shiny.
Pringle added that the mantle of chief ball conditioner has since passed to Cook, principally because he does not sweat.
According to the report, there is a long-held opinion in cricket circles that England walk a fine line with the work they put on the ball, adding that although Anderson and Stuart Broad were accused of ball tampering in South Africa in 2010, but no charges were laid.
Reverse-swing is a legal weapon, but remains controversial because of the potential for ball tampering, as one side of the ball needs to be shiny and the other rough and dry, the report added.