ICC probes 'bat tampering'
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Sydney - Cricket officials are investigating whether players in the Ashes series have been using silicone tape on their bats to avoid nicks being detected by "Hot Spot" technology, an Australian TV station reported on Wednesday.
Australian skipper Michael Clarke and England batsman Kevin Pietersen both denied any knowledge of the use of silicone-based tape, saying such a practice would amount to cheating.
Australia's Channel Nine said the International Cricket Council (ICC) general manager of cricket, Geoff Allardice, would be investigating the matter in Durham, where the fourth Test begins on Friday.
An ICC spokesman confirmed that Allardice would be arriving in Durham on Thursday to meet the two teams to address their concerns on the controversial Decision Review System (DRS) but declined to comment on the alleged use of silicone-based tape.
Nine did not provide sources and gave no details of whether the Australian or England batsmen may have been using the tape to fool Hot Spot, which uses thermal cameras to see if a batsman has hit the ball, either with his bat or pad.
But it suggested both sides were under suspicion.
Australian skipper Michael Clarke told the Sydney Morning Herald he had no knowledge of tape being used to fox the technology, which is often used to review dismissals.
"If that's the case, then we're talking about cheating and I can guarantee there is not one person in the Australian change room that will cheat," Clarke said.
"That's not the way we play cricket.
"It's hard for me to talk for other players but I've never heard any conversation about that in the Australian change room and I can guarantee you my bat manufacturer (doesn't do that). I didn't know there was such a thing you could do to hide nicking the ball on Hot Spot."
Controversy has raged over the effectiveness of the Decision Review System during the five-match series, in which England retained the Ashes after winning the first two games and drawing the third.
Hot Spot technology uses an infra-red imaging system to determine whether a batsman has made contact with a ball - with a bright mark often detected on the bat where the ball has hit.
Channel Nine said there was concern regarding Pietersen's dismissal in the second innings of the third Test, when a noise was heard indicating a nick but no Hot Spot was detected on the bat.
Pietersen described the report as "horrible journalism" and "hurtful lies".
"I am never afraid of getting out! If I nick it, I'll walk. To suggest I cheat by covering my bat with silicon infuriates me," he tweeted.
"How stupid would I be to try & hide a nick when it could save me on an LBW appeal, like in 1st innings where hotspot showed I nicked it," he added.
The Australian newspaper said Nine sources had indicated that the coating on modern bats could have been the reason that some faint edges were not detected by Hot Spot.
Cricket Australia said it had no immediate comment on the report.
"Until such time as we have clarification from the ICC and further details, then we are not in a position to make any further comment," a spokesperson said.