The Roar
The Roar


Chaotic scenes with Bairstow hailed a hero after forcibly ejecting pitch invaders over colourful protest

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28th June, 2023
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For all the drama on-field present in the first Ashes Test, one thing it didn’t have was a pitch invasion.

The second Test at Lord’s was just one over old when a pair of Just Stop Oil protesters stormed the field, throwing orange powder paint on the ground near the pitch.

One was apprehended by security, while England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, a keen rugby league player in his youth, took it upon himself to deal with the second, forcibly carrying him off the ground – though at a cost to his whites and cap, which were stained with the orange substance and forcing him to leave the field to change attire.

Another had to be wrestled to the ground close to the wicket as Ben Stokes and David Warner, with bat in hand, barred his way and attempted to tackle him. A third protester was apprehended in the stands, with the trio all arrested.

The incident prompted only a delay of five minutes as the ground staff cleared some of the powder from the outfield – but the players had stopped a potentially much-longer delay.

Ashes debutant Josh Tongue even wondered if Bairstow might have saved the five-day match from being cancelled, adding his teammate was a “bit of a hero to be fair.”

“Jonny doing what he did, who knows? The game could have been called off, added Tongue. 


“For myself, I wouldn’t probably go towards them just in case they had anything else on them. Obviously Jonny doing that, maybe he shouldn’t have done that, but I don’t know the protocol.”

An official spokesman for PM Rishi Sunak said: “The Prime Minister is pleased play was able to resume quickly and thanks security staff, the swift hands of Jonny Bairstow and other England players who stepped in.”

Jonny Bairstow carries a Just Stop Oil protestor off the pitch at Lord's.

Jonny Bairstow carries a Just Stop Oil protestor off the pitch at Lord’s. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

Warner reckoned it had been a “touchy situation”, admitting: “Me and Stokesy didn’t really know what to do.”

The Aussie opener added: “It was quite confronting because you don’t know what to do in that situation, you usually let those people run their course, but because they could potentially damage the wicket, we felt like we had to intervene.

“We were actually told to stand away and be careful, but we know what they’re trying to do to the wicket so it was about – not manhandling them like Jonny – but it was about protecting the wicket.

“I don’t know what that chalk does to the wicket but it would have been a long delay and we wouldn’t have wanted that.”


Officials have been concerned about the threat of protesters disrupting Test matches this summer and the potential of matches being abandoned if pitches are destroyed.

Several major sporting events, including premier league matches, the premiership rugby final at Twickenham and World Snooker Championships in April had already been targeted by activists.

England’s team bus was also held up by the protesters during the Lord’s Test against Ireland earlier this month.

Curators have prepared a back-up pitch in recent Tests in England in case the main one is damaged, however that would significantly change match conditions.

Bairstow had handed his protester over to the stewards, before heading to the pavilion to change his whites, but it was noticeable that he and the other players reacted quicker than the ground security.

Broadcasters largely chose not to highlight the incident, but Ricky Ponting couldn’t resist a jokey reference to Bairstow’s first-Test wicketkeeping woes.


“I didn’t want to say anything, but the one chance that’s come Jonny’s way, he’s held on to so far,” the former Australian captain said on Sky Sports.

Bairstow’s actions, naturally, sent social media into a frenzy.


Starc in for Boland as Australia confirm second Test XI

Scott Boland has been dropped for the second Ashes Test against England, with Mitchell Starc recalled in his place.

Starc’s inclusion is the only change to the team that won a thrilling first test last week, with Pat Cummins confirming early reports at the coin toss. No other changes were made.

England won the toss and have elected to bowl, with Cummins admitting he would have made the same choice due to overcast conditions at Lord’s.


“We would have had a bowl as well,” Cummins said.

“We’re really happy with how Scott has been going. Unfortunately, he is the one to miss out this week… we wanted some variety.
“We’re excited to have someone of Starcy’s class come back in.”

Australia’s to-the-minute planning for the Ashes has been made clear with Cummins’ embarrassment of bowling riches in stark contrast to England’s injury issues.

With Cummins, Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland available for the first two Tests, the tourists have had all options at their disposal to start the series.

INDORE, INDIA - MARCH 01: Mitchell Starc of Australia appeals unsuccessfully for the wicket of Rohit Sharma of India during day one of the Third Test match in the series between India and Australia at Holkare Cricket Stadium on March 01, 2023 in Indore, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc . (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The same cannot be said for England.


Jofra Archer (elbow) and Jack Leach (back) have both been ruled out for the series, while Mark Wood has been kept on ice for the first two Tests with lingering elbow injuries.

Cummins said that while luck was involved in Australia’s full arsenal being available, there was a degree of planning to it with Hazlewood’s return from side and Achilles injuries.

“I know how much work our team has put into making sure someone like Josh Hazlewood (is fit),” Cummins said.

“He has had a few injury worries, but over the past six months we have given him the best chance possible to be right for this series.

“It’s rare to have a squad that is fit. Some of it is luck, but we’ve certainly got a lot more info over the years.”

It has not always been the case for Australia.

Cummins in particular missed five years of cricket through injury after his 2011 Test debut against South Africa, while Starc also had issues early on.


“The biggest difference now is we are in our late 20s or early 30s,” Cummins said.

“Joshy, Mitch Starc, James Pattinson, myself all came onto the scene late teens early 20s when you are at your most risk.

“But to be able to manage through that and reap the rewards now later in our careers has been huge.

“The amount of time, effort and investment put into sports science in Australia has been phenomenal.”

Cummins said workload management had not played a part in selection over the first two Ashes Tests, with a tighter squeeze between Lord’s and the third Test in at Headingley a looming concern.

England do hope to have Wood back for Headingley, after being concerned on whether the speedster could get through Lord’s injury free.


Instead, the hosts have opted for Josh Tongue as the fourth seamer, with Joe Root the fallback frontline spinner.

“We wanted to play Mark Wood,” England captain Ben Stokes said.

“We felt he could definitely start the game but after conversations, we felt the extra week would give him the chance to get his loads up and the opportunity to play a full part from Leeds onwards.

“I spoke to him about how I would want him to operate in this game and he was very honest with me in saying he wasn’t sure if he would be able to give what he’s known for throughout this Test match.”

With AAP