After suffering a 10-wicket defeat against Australia in the first Ashes Test at Gabba, England were further humiliated after debutant Cameron Bancroft and Aussie skipper Steve Smith laughed over the Perth “headbutt” incident between Jonny Bairstow and Bancroft. Speaking at a post-match conference, Bancroft recounted the incident while his captain was seen laughing alongside him over it.
The laughter has not gone down well with England skipper Joe Root who said it will motivate his team to perform better in the second Test at Adelaide. Speaking to reporters at Adelaide Oval, the 26-year old said, “You look at the pictures from that press conference and I think it’s very important you be very careful how you interpret that. I’d like to think that Steve Smith has a good amount of humility about him and that he’s laughing at the scenario and the comments rather than the situation of things.”
Describing himself as “very disappointed” over the reaction, the captain further added: “Well, if that’s not motivation to the players I don’t know what is. At the end of the game you are obviously very disappointed but to see a reaction like that in a press conference is… I mean if that can’t get you up for the next game then I don’t know what can.”
Root also slammed Australia for using sledging about the headbutt to rattle Bairstow during England second innings. The right-hand batsman said that there is a limit to bantering which should not be crossed by any team. “I think there’s a place for a bit of banter out on the field, as long as it stays as banter and doesn’t become more than that,” he said. “And if it does, the umpires need to make sure it has a line that stops at the same place for both sides.”
The skipper added that some things should not be spoken on the field: “You want there to be a bit of niggle and a bit of banter flying around. It’s good for the game, it’s good to watch, it’s good to be involved in. But there are certain things that people know they shouldn’t say on the field and I think it’s important that both sides, not just one side, get that right and don’t overstep anymore.”
English seamer James Anderson reiterated Root’s remarks and said the incident will “galvanise” the visitors before the start of the second Test. “If anything, it will galvanize us as a group. We’re all going to get behind Jonny, who is an important player in our team. If we need any more incentive to get back in the series, it will give us that,” he said.
The veteran bowler further added that Australian players are using “a deliberate ploy to say things close to the stump (microphones) so it would be picked up by the media.”
“In an Ashes series there is always something that crops up and they waited until they were ahead in the game to do it. It’s up to us to try to deal with that,” Anderson said.
England, who are trailing 1-0 in the five-Test match tournament, will look to level the series by winning the first-ever day and night Test between the two countries which starts on Saturday.