London: Former captain Bob Willis made a sensational claim that England players indulged in ball tampering which led to umpires changing the ball during the group league match of the ICC Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka.
"Let`s not beat about the bush - (umpire) Aleem Dar is on England`s case. He knows that one individual is scratching the ball for England - who I am not going to name - and that`s why the ball was changed," former fast bowler Willis said on Sky Sports after Thursday`s match.
Willis added,"Have you ever heard of the batting side complaining about the shape of the ball, or the umpires saying "we`re going to change the ball because it`s out of shape"?
"The bowling side change the ball because it`s out of shape because they think it`s gone soft. That`s the reason, pure and simple. How naive does Alastair Cook think we are? The ball was changed because it was out of shape? He didn`t want the ball changed, so why was it changed?"
However England coach Giles vehemently denied the allegations.
"We don`t tamper with the ball and I hope we can talk about something else," Giles said.
"It is disappointing because we have a huge game, a must-win quarter-final, and there are a lot of headlines about the wrong stuff. With the situation the other day, the ball was changed because it had gone out of shape. We asked the question, the captain asked that question to the umpires which he has a right to. The ball was changed, the rest is history."
Giles was certainly not amused with what Willis had said but refrained from indulging into a war of words.
"People have the right to say what they say, we can`t stop them," he added. "It sounds boring, but we have to focus on what we want to do. The most important thing is winning cricket matches and not what Bob Willis says."
About a particular player being deemed responsible, Giles said: "We play our cricket as hard as anyone else and the headlines are disappointing. There has even been mention of one of our players having a specific role. That player is an extremely good player and we`d like to let him concentrate on cricket."
Giles also said that the fielding method depends on what kind of surface a match is being played.
"From the boundary you throw the ball in on the bounce because not everyone can throw it on the full. That`s permitted."