Kevin Pietersen has hit back over what he describes as “horrible lies” linking him and other players with attempts to hoodwink Hot Spot by applying silicone tape to their bats.
Pietersen was one of a clutch of players involved in this summer’s Ashes moved to dismiss reports that a new practice is rife, designed to defeat the thermal imaging technology which demonstrates bat-on-ball contact.
England seamer Graham Onions referred to the suggestion as “outrageous”, and the International Cricket Council later had to deny that it planned to launch an inquiry into the allegations. A succession of Decision Review System (DRS) controversies has beset the Ashes series, in which England retained the urn via a 2-0 lead after the third Investec Test at Emirates Old Trafford finished in a draw.
Pietersen, one of several players to have been affected by DRS incidents this summer, was given out caught-behind on the final day in Manchester even though Hot Spot indicated he had not hit the ball. Shortly before he and his team-mates arrived yesterday lunchtime at Chester-le-Street, where the fourth Test is set to begin today, Pietersen sent the first of three tweets in less than 20 minutes – each making his indignation ever more clear about the accusations.
The first began: “Horrible journalism yet again! My name brought up in hotspot crisis, suggesting I use silicone to prevent nicks showing! Such hurtful lies.” Pietersen then wrote: “I am never afraid of getting out! If I nick it, I’ll walk ... to suggest I cheat by covering my bat with silicone infuriates me.”
Finally, he asked his followers: “How stupid would I be to try and hide a nick when it could save me on an LBW appeal – like in 1st innings where hotspot showed I nicked it...?”
Onions, hoping to return this week at his home ground for his tenth Test cap, also gave the silicone notion no credence. “It’s a huge accusation, and it’s outrageous really,” he said.
“I know the England players would never put anything on their bats. Tape has been used to mend cracks or to get our favourite bats to last as long as possible, but it sounds completely silly to even think that people are putting things on their bat to try and help them to cover up decisions.
“I can say that we don’t put anything on our bats. We play the game as fair as you can, as I’m sure the Australians do as well.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke duly confirmed that.
“I find the accusation quite funny,” he said. “I can’t talk for everybody. But if it is the case, we are talking about cheating. I can tell you there is not one person in the Australian change-rooms who is a cheat. I know no one is going to the extreme of saying ‘put this on your bat because it will help you beat Hot Spot’.”
Players from both sides, meanwhile, are set to meet the ICC’s director of operations, Geoff Allardice, in Durham before Friday’s Test. The ICC decided to fly the Australian out to speak to the teams and their coaches in response to concerns over the implementation of DRS but not – the world governing body is at pains to point out – to begin an investigation.
Chief executive Dave Richardson added: “These media reports are totally incorrect. Geoff Allardice is meeting with both teams and umpires to see how we can best use the DRS and the available technology, going forward in the next two Test matches. It has nothing to do with any players.”