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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
Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse
AFP, Adelaide
Ashes 2017-18,The Ashes,Australia vs England
Joe Root, captain of the England cricket team, has endured a torrid time with controversies off the field as Australia head into the Adelaide Test with a 1-0 lead. (REUTERS)

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.

Jonny Bairstow was involved in a ‘headbutt’ incident with Cameron Bancroft, giving the Australian press plenty of ammunition. (REUTERS)

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.

Alastair Cook’s comments that Australia do not have magic balls sounded a bit hollow ahead of the Brisbane Test. (REUTERS)

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.”

First Published: Dec 01, 2017 18:33 IST