Jonny Bairstow has effectively accused Australia of claiming unfair catches during the Ashes series, in his first extensive reflection on the Alex Carey stumping that saw the tourists showered with abuse at Lord’s and for much of the Ashes series afterwards.
Moeen Ali, meanwhile, has stated that Pat Cummins and Australia were still tarred with the “cheats” label from the 2018 Newlands scandal because they did not withdraw their appeal against Bairstow.
The frank views of Bairstow and Moeen are published in a new book about England and the memorable Ashes series, Bazball, extracts from which were published in the Telegraph in London on Tuesday.
Bairstow pointed to Steve Smith’s catch of Joe Root in the first innings at Lord’s, and also another instance where he claimed Marnus Labuschagne appealed for a catch that did not carry.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Bairstow told the authors. “The decision was that I was out, and I moved on. I’ve not brought it up since. I’ve kept quiet. It’s on them. If that’s how they want to go about it and win a cricket game or what have you, then so be it.
“Ben (England captain Ben Stokes) has said what he said, and he’s right. There have been other bits. There’s conjecture around everything. Fingers underneath the ball when the ball’s still touching the ground. Celebrating when the ball has touched the ground. Marnus celebrated at Edgbaston at short-leg.
“Then the one that Rooty fell to at Lord’s, when [Smith] said his fingers were underneath the ball. However, they were splayed widely. But that was given out, that’s fine – it’s part and parcel of the game and the decisions the umpires give.”
Bairstow was interviewed before the final Test at the Oval, where Stokes called for a review of an appeal against Steve Smith after he lost control of the ball while trying to throw it up in celebration. England ultimately won to tie the series 2-2, and the teams did not drink together in the dressing rooms after the game – ending a long tradition.
Bairstow maintained the view put to the world by Stokes that the Carey stumping was not in the spirit of the game because it was the end of the over, even though the laws of the game clearly state that it is not the unilateral right of the batter to decide when the ball is dead.
“They’re two different things,” Bairstow said. “If you’re starting out of your crease, you’re trying to gain an advantage. If you start in your crease, and not trying to take a run, and you finish in your crease ... That’s the bit – if you try to gain an advantage, then it’s fair game. But if you’re starting in your crease, you’ve ducked, tap, tap, scratched. I’ve even dragged my bat, looked up, and then gone.
“I’ve never seen it happen from someone starting in their crease. I don’t think you want that filtering down into kids’ cricket. Look at the Mankads and everything like that. You want young kids to be out there batting and having fun, not thinking about whether the fielders might do this or that.
“It might tarnish people’s enjoyment of the game that we’re trying to get kids into. You want to be out there batting and bowling, rather than thinking about the 11 different ways you can get someone out.”
Moeen, meanwhile, put his name to a popular link that was drawn immediately after the Lord’s Test, that the Australian team were unreformed from the 2018 ball tampering affair in South Africa.
“I thought, oh my god, this is going to kick off now – Bluey [Bairstow] is fuming here,” Moeen said.
“My view was it was out, obviously. I just thought it was a great opportunity for Pat Cummins to put to bed a lot of the things that have happened previously.
“Not just put to bed, but take away that label they have had for a while with ‘Sandpapergate’.
“Firstly, if I was captain, I would hate to win a game like that. And secondly, a great opportunity missed for Australia.”
Australia’s players have also given their own subsequent accounts of the Bairstow affair, including the tense scenes in the shared Lord’s lunchroom after they were subjected to a flurry of abuse on their way back into the pavilion and up the stairs.
The abuse of three members in particular was called out by Usman Khawaja, leading to a Marylebone Cricket Club investigation that resulted in the expulsion of one member and long-term suspensions for two others.
Speaking in India ahead of Australia’s World Cup clash with the Netherlands, all-rounder Mitch Marsh said of the Bairstow incident: “I think at this point it seems like a lifetime ago with how much cricket we’ve played since.
“We’re really focused on the World Cup. There’ll obviously always be chat when it comes to Australia and England. Things always come back up over the years.
“We’re solely focused on tomorrow and the World Cup.”
With Greg Baum
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