Friday 13 April 2007 

Key Admits Sandpaper Ball Tampering

Kent's captain and former England opener Robert Key has admitted tampering with the ball in a pre-season friendly against Nottinghamshire. Key was photographed in the game at Canterbury using sandpaper on the ball to aid reverse swing.

Key claimed it was merely experimentation although he does concede that his actions were 'naive.'

Talking to The Guardian, Key, 27, said:

"My conscience is clear. I won't be going out and scratching the ball the way I have in this game in a first-class match but these games are used for practice and are a good opportunity to see where people are.

"The way the game is moving forward for bowlers nowadays is through reverse swing, so what we've tried to do throughout our pre-season nets was to get brand new balls, sandpaper one side, and let the boys practise bowling. It actually goes really well.

"Maybe I've been a bit naive but it didn't really occur to me that this might develop into a match-fixing scandal.''

Action is unlikely to be taken as the match, being a friendly, did not come under the jurisdiction of the ECB and the game was umpired by local officials.

Kent, for their part, regarded the game as "formalised practice'' and will not be taking the matter further.

Nottinghamshire also had few complaints, their director of cricket Mick Newell commenting: "It's not what you normally expect and we weren't aware of it. If I had noticed it I would have asked him what was going on.

"But I know Rob would not dream of doing it in a proper match and it was only a practice game.''