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UK View: 'He didn't look like a leader. He looked pathetic' - Cummins caned but Poms also skewer 'dozy' Bairstow

3rd July, 2023
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3rd July, 2023
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England’s media and former players have been split down the middle over the huge moment that will define the second Test of this Ashes series.

Australia’s stumping of Jonny Bairstow by Alex Carey – and the decision by Pat Cummins not to recall the English batsman – led to outrage in the stands at Lord’s, including the Long Room where furious members confronted the tourists.

The moment was compared to two other lowlights in Australia cricket history – with some writers claiming the Aussies have learned nothing from the sand paper affair against South Africa, and others drawing comparison with the underarm ball of Trevor Chappell.

British television presenter Piers Morgan summed up one school thought via Twitter. “You cannot be serious? Australia, that is pathetic. How can you possibly want to win an Ashes Test match like that?”

Oliver Holt, writing in the Daily Mail, also turned the blow torch on the Australians – especially Cummins.

“Pat Cummins sat in his chair on the dais at the post-match press conference, grinning sheepishly like a child who has been rumbled for filching a penny from the jar. The Australia captain did not seem to realise it but he had won a Test match and lost his reputation,” Holt wrote.

“He had conspired in the match-deciding dismissal of Jonny Bairstow on a pathetic technicality that made the much-reviled Mankad look like the height of sporting etiquette.

“Cummins seemed too pleased with the victory of his cynicism to care a jot about anything else and so he made a joke that was as weak and as thin as his captaincy had been on the final day when he was asked whether there was any course of action he would not countenance if it meant winning a Test match.


“It was put to him that maybe he would be happy to win a game by bowling the last ball under-arm, as his predecessor, Greg Chappell, had once told his little brother, Trevor, to do in a one-day international against New Zealand more than 40 years ago.

Australian captain, Pat Cummins makes his way onto the field for the post match presentations after Day Five of the LV= Insurance Ashes 2nd Test match between England and Australia at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australian captain Pat Cummins makes his way onto the field for the post match presentations. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“So would Cummins do that? ‘Depends how flat the wicket is,’ Cummins said.”

Holt said the Australians tried to deflect from what they had done to Bairstow by “whining about the treatment they received from MCC members.

“Really? Precious souls. To borrow from Denis Healey, copping abuse from the old boys in their bacon and egg ties is sport’s equivalent of being savaged by a dead sheep. They better toughen up a bit before they get to Headingley for the start of the third Test on Thursday.”

He gave Australia’s captain one final kicking: “Cummins may not have cheated on Sunday but the impression he left was of a poor, unimaginative, panicking captain who was too fearful to do the right thing when Carey threw down Bairstow’s stumps. He did not look like a leader. He looked pathetic.”


Holt’s colleagues at the Mail were more inclined to berate Bairstow than the Australians.

Lawrence Booth wrote: “My first instinct when Australia’s Alex Carey threw down the stumps was to wonder why Jonny Bairstow would risk leaving his crease before the umpires had decided the ball was dead.

“Watch Ben Stokes: he regularly keeps his bat behind the line while he checks with the fielding side that he’s OK to leave his crease. Why? Because he’s damned if he’s going to give his opponents a sniff of a cheap wicket.

“”It was a crucial stage of a crucial Test, and the Ashes were on the line. You may disapprove of what Carey did, but you can’t argue he was operating outside the laws. Besides, Bairstow tried to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne in the same way during Australia’s second innings.”

Former England captain Nasser Hussain praised Carey.


“Alex Carey was ruthless. It was very smart, switched-on cricket,” he wrote.

“Jonny was regularly leaving or ducking under the ball, and then immediately walking out of his crease.

“Nowadays at both ends, you don’t leave your crease until it’s a dead ball, or until the ball comes into play when you’re backing up.

“It was slightly dopey by Jonny and they saw that opportunity and took it. The only thing was, it was the last ball of the over and had the umpire called over? If the umpire calls over, then it becomes a dead ball.

“But the fact that Carey threw it, the moment it got in his gloves, meant it was completely in the laws of the game. I’m not one for buying into this whole spirit of the game thing.

“Be switched on and don’t leave your crease — it’s a lesson.”


David Lloyd, also a former England international, agreed that Bairstow was at fault, but had wanted to see a better response from Australia.

“Alex Carey was alert to it. He’d seen him walking out of his crease previously and Bairstow only has himself to blame,” wrote Lloyd.

“Under the letter of the law, he is out.

“But if I was in the Australia camp, I would have thought about it very seriously and called him back.

“It surprised me that Pat Cummins and Australia didn’t think: ‘We’ll get you out properly.’

“They’re a good enough cricket team and they should have done that. But this is the Ashes and a rivalry unlike anything else.”

Over at the Telegraph, Oliver Brown was playing the Holt role.


“For Lord’s, this was the day that decorum died,” he began somberly. “In every corner of a stately sporting citadel, the old Ashes codes of honour and mateship did not so much ebb away as evaporate.

“Stuart Broad told Alex Carey that his dastardly stumping of Jonny Bairstow was the only act for which he would ever be remembered. Brendon McCullum, England’s head coach, said he could not imagine sharing a beer with the Australians any time soon. And in the pavilion of all places, a skirmish broke out, with a couple of egg-and-bacon ties needing to be forcibly separated from Usman Khawaja under a portrait of Sir Donald Bradman.

“We had suspected the final act of an unforgettable Test would be dramatic, but nobody expected the Long Room to turn into the the Den. Such were the passions unleashed by the resurfacing of some good old Antipodean sharp practice, with Carey snaffling the crucial wicket of Bairstow after the batsman had marked his guard. It might have been justified by the laws of the game, but by the spirit? Beyond the pale. And this day five crowd, far more boisterous than the usual mild-mannered audiences at the home of cricket, never let the Australians hear the end of it.”

Brown evoked the stain of sandpaper to hammer home his point.

“So much for scrupulous Australia, then. So much for this band of impeccable puritans, who have embarked on such a radical makeover since the 2018 sandpaper scandal that their captain models seaweed hoodies and their leading run-scorer hawks a brand of oat milk. Window-dressing, all of it. For when it comes to opportunistic or plain underhand tactics, the world’s No 1 Test side have proved that they remain in a class of their own.

“Pat Cummins made no effort to withdraw the appeal. For all the suggestions that he is one of the gentler Australian captains, diplomatic to a fault, he can be supremely ruthless when the occasion demands it.


“It threatens to be some time before Australia escape the shadow of what, in the eyes of outraged England fans, was a plain down-and-dirty deed. Cummins’ players have not so much blotted their copybook here at Lord’s as spilt the entire ink well over it.

“The caricature of Australian cynicism is now established, for better or worse, as the theme of this Ashes. Carey, in particular, would be well advised to enlist his own security detail by the time he faces the Western Terrace at Headingley later this week. For while England fans might be able to tolerate defeat, and the likelihood of a first home Ashes series defeat since 2001, they cannot forgive anyone they consider a scoundrel. All is fair and love and war? Not always. And especially not now.”

Former captain Michael Atherton, also in the Times, found no reason to criticise the Australians.

“It was the kind of attempted dismissal that is ten-a-penny in league cricket, although the crowd, losing any sense of reason, did not like it one bit and did not let Pat Cummins and his players forget it,” wrote Atherton.

“It was a dozy bit of cricket from Bairstow to allow Carey the opportunity and reflected much of the flabby cricket played by England in this match.”

But elsewhere in the Times Simon Wilde went on a tortured journey relating this incident to the work done by Justin Langer to repair Australia’s reputation post sandpapergate.

“Not everything the Australians did under Langer quite passed muster when it came to the spirit in which the game was played, but he certainly straightened things out for a while. He grasped from the moment that he took the job the fundamental consequence of what had happened in South Africa — that his team had forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it came to what might be called the borderline aspects of play, where the laws of cricket end and sportsmanship begins.


“Provided “over” had not been called, Bairstow’s dismissal was technically legitimate, but whether it was “fair” in the Langer definition of the word is another matter. “It takes a long time to build a reputation but only one act to smash it down . . . It’s important that we don’t bend the rules, we play fair.”

Michael Vaughan, meanwhile, wrote in the Telegraph that the game was not lost in the Bairstow moment, rather in England’s “first innings madness”.

“England’s batting was stupid and reckless across lots of the match at Lord’s. What we saw from England and Ben Stokes in the second innings, from 45-4, was brilliant. But I think it has exposed England’s batting in the first innings.

“I think it’s almost impossible against this Australian team to win three Tests on the trot. But just win at Headingley first and you never know, especially with Stokes in the side.”

He found nothing untoward over the Bairstow incident, but did point an arched finger at Cummins.

“What we’ve seen is again great drama, a great spectacle for Ashes cricket. And, of course, the drama of a moment that questions the spirit of the game. Jonny Bairstow was dozy but would you want that on your captaincy reign?” Vaughan wrote.

“Pat Cummins’s a great guy – it was up to him to potentially say he didn’t want it to stand and withdraw the appeal. Ultimately that’s a moment he might look back on and say maybe we should have given Jonny a bit more leeway. But Pat’s 2-0 up now.”


Simon Heffer, huffed and puffed in the Telegraph, methodically listing Australia’s priors.

“If, as is likely, Australia win this series it may come to be attributed to the low fashion in which they took Bairstow’s wicket, which is something of which only the most idiotic member of their side could feel proud,” he wrote.

“It evoked memories of Greg Chappell ordering his brother to bowl underarm the last ball of an ODI against New Zealand in 1981, so the Kiwis could not score the six needed to win the game.

“After the ball-tampering scandal of 2018 when two members of the present side, Warner and Smith, instructed a novice bowler to doctor the ball in a test against South Africa, Cricket Australia claimed that their side had, in ethical terms, turned over a new leaf. Smith, booed when he came out to bat at Lord’s, at least appeared genuinely contrite at his behaviour, famously crying at a press conference when the truth came out.

“Warner has shown no such remorse: he, like Smith, will carry the label of ‘cheat’ for the rest of his life, but has, it seems ,a far less troubled attitude to it. It creates a suspicion that for some players, cheating or a degree of sharp practice is entirely acceptable.”