It’s been a few days since the controversy surrounding Jonny Bairstow’s stumping at Lord’s began. However, the fire that was stoked is yet to die down. The build-up to the third Ashes 2023 Test at Headingley in Leeds has been as much about the Bairstow dismissal as it has been about the performance of the two teams.
While England have hit out at Australia, alleging poor sportsman spirit, the Aussies have stuck to the ‘playing by the rules’ theory. Not only players from the two teams, but coaches and former cricketers have also joined the heated debate. Fans and journalists have not been far behind, pulling out old clips to make a point depending on which side of the fence they are on.
The cold vibes are likely to be perceptible when England take on Australia in the third Test, which begins at Headingley on Thursday, July 6.
Whether the controversy unites England or serves as a distraction remains to be seen.
What the captains said about the Bairstow controversy ahead of the Headingley Test
Australia Test captain Pat Cummins stuck to the stance that the visitors have no qualms about the manner in which Bairstow was stumped in the second Ashes 2023 Test at Lord’s.
Speaking ahead of the Headingley Test, he maintained that the controversy does not bother his team.
“Doesn’t really bother me to be honest. The way our team has conducted themselves over the last couple of years has been flawless. That showed again on Day 5 at Lord’s. The way they conducted themselves in the Long Room was fantastic.
“It’s been talked about this week about the underarm (bowling) incident (in 1981). How far do you want to go back? We’ve all moved on. The team did nothing wrong, so we’re all comfortable. I don’t think that’s the aim of playing cricket (to shush a few people by withdrawing the appeal).”
On the other hand, England captain Ben Stokes admitted that the best thing to do about the Bairstow stumping row is to move on from it.
He, however, backed the keeper-batter to use the recent developments as a catalyst to come up with a significant performance at Headingley in the must-win Test for England.
“Jonny is fine. We have seen in the past that after any sort of criticism of himself he has always managed to do something. If he uses what happened last week as some kind of inspiration to get the best out of himself, who knows?
The England skipper continued:
“I said before training that whatever you need to do as individuals, do it. I don’t think we can galvanize as a group any more than we have. There has been a lot of noise about the incident at Lord’s but the best thing everyone can do is move on.”
Bairstow has registered scores of 78, 20, 16, and 10 in the two Test matches played so far.
Ponting hits out at Broad with “he’s not lived the life of an angel” comment
England pacer Stuart Broad, who walked in at the fall of Bairstow’s wicket at Lord’s on Day 5, has been on a rampage, hitting out at the Aussies, Carey in particular.
After telling the keeper-batter that the Bairstow stumping is the only thing he will be remembered for, Broad was scathing in his criticism of the Aussies in his column for the Daily Mail.
However, Australian legend Ricky Ponting gave the English pacer a reality check.
Ponting said on the ICC Review show:
“Stuart Broad has also got a pretty short memory. He’s not lived the life of an angel every time he’s walked onto the cricket field either. If you look at some of the stuff that he was carrying on with (on Day 5) on the field, I think you’d probably suggest that that was outside the spirit of cricket as well.”
Broad famously refused to walk after edging an Ashton Agar delivery to Michael Clarke at first slip during the 2013 Ashes.
Umpire’s view: Simon Taufel chips in
Not only players and analysts, but umpires have also joined the Bairstow stumping debate. Former ICC elite umpire Simon Taufel, who is also a member of the MCC laws sub-committee, was clear in his assessment that Australia did not breach the Spirit of Cricket.
In a post on Linkedin, he raised various pertinent questions over the controversy and opined:
“The hypocrisy and lack of consistency from some people and groups is quite interesting and concerning for the future of our game. Maybe I am the odd one out here? The good news is that we are actively engaged with Test cricket, the best form of the game.”
The magnitude of the controversy reached a different level when the prime ministers of the two countries – Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese – also joined in, backing their respective sides.
Surely, the repercussions of the Bairstow stumping at Lord’s will be felt at Headingley as well.
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