Ashes: England cricket’s controversies - From Headbutts to magic balls
England cricket team have endured a torrid time in the Ashes off the field, right from Ben Stokes’ brawl that led to his suspension to the current ‘headbutt’ incident involving Jonny Bairstow and Cameron Bancroft.cricket Updated: Dec 01, 2017 18:34 IST
England’s Ashes tour of Australia has been beset with problems, some of them self-inflicted. AFP Sport looks at some of the missteps that have distracted the tourists so far:
The Bristol brawl
England’s Ashes tour suffered a major blow before the team’s departure when star all-rounder Ben Stokes was suspended pending a police investigation of his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub, where a man suffered a fractured eye socket. Detectives handling the investigation said in Britain this week that they had handed the file to prosecutors for “charging advice”, as Stokes flew to New Zealand where he has signed with provincial side Canterbury.
Bairstow butts in
England’s 10-wicket first Test defeat at the Gabba was further soured by revelations of a late-night ‘head-butting’ incident involving wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow earlier on the tour. Australian Test opener Cameron Bancroft described the “headbutt greeting” by Jonny Bairstow as “weird.” “I was expecting a handshake. It wasn’t the greeting of choice that I was expecting,” Bancroft deadpanned. Bairstow’s actions were slammed as “dumb” by team coach Trevor Bayliss as a midnight curfew was slapped on the players for the rest of the tour.
Wound up by a GOAT
Nathan Lyon, dubbed the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), ruffled the tourists’ feathers with his taunt that Australia were out to “end careers” in the Ashes Tests. Lyon recalled the devastation caused by left-armer Mitchell Johnson in 2013-2014, when he took 37 wickets with his ferocious fast bowling as the Australians inflicted a crushing 5-0 home series defeat. But later, the spinner revealed he was being deliberately provocative to detract attention from Australia’s unexpected selections for the first Test. “I took a lot of pressure off Tim Paine and Cameron Bancroft, I thought you guys (media) were a little bit smarter than that,” Lyon said.
Cook’s ‘magic balls’
Former Test skipper Alastair Cook one of the tourists’ big hopes, has struggled for runs so far on the Australian tour. Cook, who plundered 766 runs when England won in Australia seven years ago, had a poor first Test at the Gabba, scoring just two and seven and facing a total of only 24 balls -- and making his pre-Test comments sound a bit hollow. “There’s nothing we haven’t seen before in cricket,” he said. “They’re not suddenly bowling 150 miles an hour. (They’ve) not got magic balls which start way outside the stumps and swing miles and stuff.”