Jonny Bairstow has claimed Australia took illegal catches during the Ashes, as part of his first in-depth reflection on his controversial stumping by Alex Carey in the second Test.
When Bairstow strayed from his crease after the final ball of an over on the last day at Lord’s, wicketkeeper Carey lobbed the ball underarm at the stumps.
Over had not been called, but Australia’s decision not to withdraw their appeal led to claims from the English that the stumping, while legal, had not been in the spirit of the game.
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The wicket stood and the Australians, verbally abused by fans and members in the pavilion as they left for lunch, went on to win the second Test.
The stumping incident underscored a tense drawn series that ended with the English choosing not to open the dressing rooms to Australia for customary post-series beers.
But Bairstow had remained quiet about the incident until the release of extracts from Lawrence Booth and Nick Hoult’s book Bazball in The Telegraph.
“The decision was that I was out, and I moved on,” Bairstow said. “I’ve not brought it up since. I’ve kept quiet. It’s on them. If that’s how they want to go about it and win a cricket game or what have you, then so be it.”
Veteran all-rounder Moeen Ali implied Australia missed the chance to exorcise any leftover demons from the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering saga, after which they were branded cheats.
“My view was it was out, obviously,” Ali told the authors of Bazball. “I just thought it was a great opportunity for [captain] Pat Cummins to put to bed a lot of the things that have happened previously.
“Not just put to bed, but take away that label they have had for a while with ‘Sandpapergate’.”
Bairstow said there was a difference between stumping a batter sneaking out of their crease for cynical purposes, and catching a batter unaware, as Australia did.
“If you try to gain an advantage, then it’s fair game,” he said. “But if you’re starting in your crease, you’ve ducked, tap, tap, scratched. I’ve even dragged my bat, looked up, and then gone.
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“I’ve never seen it happen from someone starting in their crease. I don’t think you want that filtering down into kids’ cricket.”
Bairstow also accused Australia of taking unfair catches in the field during the Ashes. He cast doubt as to whether the ball hit the ground before Steve Smith controlled it to dismiss Joe Root on day two at Lord’s.
Bairstow also questioned whether Marnus Labuschagne had caught Harry Brook cleanly in the second innings of the first Test at Edgbaston.
“There’s conjecture around everything,” he said. “Fingers underneath the ball when the ball’s still touching the ground. Celebrating when the ball has touched the ground. Marnus celebrated at Edgbaston at short-leg.
“Then the one that ‘Rooty’ fell to at Lord’s, when [Smith] said his fingers were underneath the ball. However, they were splayed widely. “But that was given out, that’s fine – it’s part and parcel of the game and the decisions the umpires give.”