x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

South Africa want to 'reverse' the ball to swing it like England

De Villiers retorts England's has skills with ball more than others but stops short of ball-tampering charges.

Dale Steyn is not fully fit and remains doubtful. Philip Brown / Reuters
Dale Steyn is not fully fit and remains doubtful. Philip Brown / Reuters

AB de Villiers is prepared to give England the benefit of the doubt over accusations that the Champions Trophy hosts have been guilty of ball-tampering.

Ashley Giles, the England coach, has issued a strong denial that his team unfairly altered the condition of the ball, in search of reverse-swing - a claim made by former England Test captain and now television pundit Bob Willis.

The International Cricket Council and England and Wales Cricket Board have also made it clear they are confident nothing untoward took place either, in last week's match against Sri Lanka when the ball was changed because it had gone out of shape.

South Africa will take on England in the first semi-final at The Oval today, with captain De Villiers well aware of the claims but not about to convict the opposition without firm evidence.

"If they are doing something with the ball then it is definitely a concern, yes," he said. "But we've got no proof of that.

"They seem to get it to 'reverse' a bit quicker than the rest of the teams. So maybe they've just got really good skill in the bowlers."

Careful, and legal, ball-management allied to skill is the recipe England insist works for them.

De Villiers said: "We've tried it as well - I think all teams try to.

"We haven't really managed to succeed in that. We'll try again tomorrow, and see if our bowlers can get that skill to 'reverse' the ball.

"It's something that the umpires and ICC will probably look into - why England, and some of the other teams, might get it to 'reverse' quicker or later.

"It is not really up to me to decide on that ... but if there is something funny happening, then it is definitely a concern."

South Africa hope to have their pace spearhead Dale Steyn fit, for only his second match in the tournament, as he continues his recovery from a side strain.

Steyn was able to bowl six overs in the rain-reduced tie against West Indies at Cardiff, where South Africa booked their place in the last four, but had an easy time of it at nets yesterday.

De Villiers said: "It will be nice to have him in the team again. It looks like we've got a good chance. He's taken another day off, to make sure we rest him really well. I hope we can have him ... but we definitely can beat England without him."

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