Cook rubbishes ball-tampering claims

ENGLAND one-day skipper Alastair Cook has denied his pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad have ever indulged in the dark arts of ball-tampering following accusations from Pakistan’s Umar Gul.

Swing specialist Gul, a mainstay of his country’s one-day side, was quoted as saying Anderson altered the ball during Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England and that Broad did the same in last winter’s Ashes series. The right-armer has since clarified his comments in a statement, insisting he intended them to mean that any bowler could be accused of ball-tampering.

But Cook hit back at the 27-year-old’s claims, saying: “We certainly haven’t tampered with the ball and if he did have any complaints he should have gone to the International Cricket Council. I think he has almost said himself that it has been a bit of a mountain out of a molehill.” Cook was speaking ahead of his squad’s departure to India where they are set to play five ODIs and two Twenty20 fixtures against the world champions. The Essex left-hander has made a more than promising start to his reign as the 50-over captain, with series victories against upcoming opponents India and Sri Lanka already in the bank.

Cook will have to make do without his senior pace bowlers in the Subcontinent – Anderson has been rested while Broad is nursing a muscle injury in his right shoulder – but is still confident his new-look side are capable of springing a surprise.

“I certainly think we can beat India,” Cook said. “It will be incredibly tough. We need everyone to be playing very well. We all know what the one-day crowds are like over there. They love their cricket.

“Delivering our skills when 50,000 or 60,000 people are screaming will also be a key factor, but with this squad I think we can do something really special.”