Watch: Australia PM triggers Ashes banter with 'provocative' Bairstow picture, UK's Rishi Sunak throws 'sandpaper' jibe
The Australia and UK Prime Minister exchanged friendly jibes over the ongoing Ashes series, where the Aussies are leading 2-1 with two matches remaining.
In addition to the high-intensity cricket on display, the Ashes is known for its iconic rivalries and drama. And the 2023 edition of the historic clash has lived up to its name so far, churning out plenty of controversies to couple up with top-quality cricketing action. While the first Test saw Australia scraping out a two-wicket win over the English team, the second match at Lord's made headlines for the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow, who was stumped out by Alex Carey in an unusual fashion.
Watch: Viral: Rishi Sunak, Albanese Clash Over Ashes At NATO's Vilnius Summit; 'Really Provocative'
The debate over the legality of Bairstow's dismissal was short-lived but England fans accused Australia of lacking ‘spirit of cricket’. With Australia taking a 2-0 lead in the series, England faced a must-win scenario in Headingley, and win they did, as the bowlers steered hosts to an impressive comeback on rain-hit Day 3 of the Test. The side eventually registered a three-wicket win as the Ashes now remains poised for another blockbuster clash in Manchester.
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While the banter between fans remains one of the major highlights in the Ashes, the prime ministers of the two states have also joined in on throwing shades at each other over the incidents in the 2023 series. As the PMs of the two countries – UK's Rishi Sunak and Australia's Anthony Albanese – met at the ongoing Vilnius Summit in Lithuania, both brought with themselves a picture each from the ongoing Ashes series.
Albanese initially pulled out a placard which read, ‘Aus 2-1 England’, leaving the entire room in splits. Sunak, though, was ready with his counter as he displayed a picture of Chris Woakes and Mark Wood celebrating after England's win in the third Test. The Australian PM, then, admitting that it would be a little “provocative,” pulled another picture from his file – this one had Jonny Bairstow's controversial dismissal as he moved away from his crease.
Rishi Sunak couldn't help but chuckle, while throwing another jibe at his counterpart. “I'm sorry but I didn't bring my sandpaper with me!” he said, as the two eventually laughed and shook hands.
The sandpaper jibe was in reference to the Cape Town Test between Australia and South Africa in 2018, when Cameron Bancroft, the Aussie batter, was caught using sandpaper to tamper with the ball. The incident had resulted in sacking of Steve Smith as captain, as well as bans on Smith, Bancroft, and then vice-captain David Warner.
Both, Smith and Warner, have since made phenomenal comebacks for the side. Smith continues to remain Australia's most important batter and also scored a century during the Lord's Test.
The fourth Test of the Ashes series begins on July 19 at Old Trafford in Manchester, where England face another must-win scenario to keep their chances alive of regaining the Ashes urn.