THIS is it, the picture which has got the whole of South Africa in a lather. Stuart Broad's foot coming into contact with the ball on day three of the third Test in Cape Town.
The front page splash in the Cape Times decided to ignore the record temperatures, the packed crowds and South Africa's incredible 312-2 yesterday, choosing instead to run the banner: BALL TAMPERING FURORE.
Broad, not the most popular figure here, and Jimmy Anderson, the second-best wicket taker in the series behind Graeme Swann, both stand accused.
Broad for an innocent stop with his foot just before lunch yesterday, Anderson for picking at the quarter-seam. Images of both have been repeated again and again by the South African Broadcasting Association on television here and around the world.
While their captain Graeme Smith has just been out for a potentially match-winning, series-levelling 183 and the dominant hosts extend their lead to 366 with seven wickets in hand on another steamy morning here at Newlands, South Africa have now said they won't be making an official complaint to the ICC.
Instead, we await a statement after they "made clear their concerns" to match referee Roshan Mahanama.
Poor old England. They just can't win. First Kevin Pietersen gets wrongly accused of throwing beer at South African fans. Now they are hit with allegations of ball tampering on a day when South Africa seemed to cope rather well with anything Broad or Anderson threw at them. Between them they bowled 26 overs and took 0-103 yesterday. Neil Manthorpe, the British-born SABC frontman, raises the question: How did Broad get such great reverse swing in the last Test at Kingsmead and apparently they are going through the footage, checking for further fiddling. South Africa coach Mickey Arthur also asked the question after the spell which turned the second Test from a well-balanced contest into an innings and 98 run victory for England.
But the best comment on this subject comes from England coach, Andy Flower. The Cape Town-born Zimbabwean said simply: "This amazing amount of reverse swing gained from Stuart standing on the ball obviously hasn't worked today!"
Both captain Andrew Strauss and Flower are seething over this latest attack on England's integrity and Flower added: "The umpires or match referee haven't said anything to us. A lot of tall fast bowlers stop the ball with their boots so I don't see anything sinister in it at all."
Broad insists he stopped the ball with his boot because he couldn't be bothered to stoop for the ball in the near 40 degree heat which left the 7,000-strong Barmy Army bright red yesterday. They don't like him here, perhaps because his father Chris is a match referee or because he got a bit stroppy after his dismissal on review in Centurion.
Flower added: "I thought our bowlers were very skilful in the way they swung the ball at Durban. They did it a bit in the First Test at Centurion as well. Both sides know how to get the ball to reverse swing.
"It is a very well-documented skill. By shining the ball on your trousers you get a smooth side and that helps reverse swing."
Labels: ball tampering, cricket, england in cape town, england in south africa, james anderson, jimmy anderson, record temperatures, stuart broad, third Test