UK PM joins Australia pile-on over Ashes Test stumping

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accused Australia of breaching the spirit of cricket, adding to the national uproar over the controversial Jonny Bairstow stumping during the second Ashes Test.

Jul 04, 2023, updated Jul 04, 2023
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watches the second Test. Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watches the second Test. Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Australia are bracing for more harsh treatment from crowds at Headingley this week, after their dramatic 43-run win at Lord’s gave them a 2-0 lead in the Ashes series.

England media on Monday laid the boot into Australia with several references to the word “cheat” on front and back pages, with images from within the Lord’s long room.

Both the Daily Express and Metro ran with the bodyline-themed “Just Not Cricket” headline, while London’s Telegraph labelled it an “underhand dismissal”.

Several MCC members were suspended for abusing Australia players inside Lord’s’ Long Room.

England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum hit out at Australia in the dramatic postscript to Sunday’s dramatic finish, saying they would have withdrawn the appeal.

Sunak has now backed the pair’s claims, with a spokesperson for his office telling reporters in the UK that he was unhappy with Australia stumping Bairstow after he ducked a ball and wandered out of his crease.

“The prime minister agrees with Ben Stokes. He said he simply wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did,” a spokesman for Sunak’s office said.

“The game did provide an opportunity to see Ben Stokes at his best and it was an incredible Test match and he has confidence England will bounce back at Headingley.”

When asked whether Sunak believed Australia’s had not upheld the spirit of cricket, his spokesperson said: “Yes.”

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Australia have defended the stumping, adamant Bairstow himself has thrown the ball back at the wickets while wicketkeeping in the same Test.

They also believe a decision on whether the ball was dead at the end of the over is one for the umpires, and that there was no trickery involved.

Sunak’s views are at odds with several former players, with former England red and white-ball captains Andrew Strauss and Eoin Morgan among those defending Australia.

India star Ravichandran Ashwin has also backed Australia’s actions, having himself been involved in mankad controversies.

“The keeper would never have a dip at the stumps from that far out in a Test match unless he or his team have noticed a pattern of the batter leaving his crease after leaving a ball like Bairstow did,” Ashwin posted on social media.

“We must applaud the game smarts of the individual rather than skewing it towards unfair play or spirit of the game.”

But former Test cricketer Sir Geoffrey Boycott used his column in the Telegraph to call for Australia to apologise on Monday.

“Australia need to have a think about what they did and make a full public apology,” Boycott wrote.

“If you want to win at all costs then cricket should not be for you. We want people to play hard and fair but surely there are standards to uphold?

“When batsmen are not trying to take an advantage then you should not follow the letter of the law. Apply some common sense.”

-with AAP

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