Australia woke up Monday morning to an ash storm blowing across the world after Alex Carey’s controversial strain on Jonny Bairstow sparked acrimony, recriminations, accusations and some degree of perplexity.
Battle lines were drawn almost immediately after the England batter was dismissed on day five of the second Test at Lord’s as the not unfamiliar debate centered on the rules of the game versus the spirit of the game was reopened.
England captain Ben Stokes was, perhaps understandably, in the latter camp and questioned in his post-match interview whether calling Australia was in the spirit of the game. But the Aussies were quick to point out that on day three Bairstow tried to outsmart Marnus Labuschagne in the same way.
“I can’t have it both ways, guys!” headlined Fox Sports. “Damaging images expose the great hypocrisy of Poms’ ashes.”
Stuart Broad, who joined Ben Stokes at the crease once Bairstow left, was clearly pissed off by the decision and continued in his usual pantomime villain role – making sure he got his way with over-the-top moves after every bullet he had survived. Some Aussies weren’t impressed with the performance.
England’s outcry over the incident has prompted questions about ‘whether people who live in glass houses should be throwing stones’, reads the unsigned Fox Sports report, pointing to another last year’s incident when England chased New Zealander Colin De Grandhomme out of their crease.
An aggrieved Brendan McCullum has suggested he could skip post-series beers with Australia over the incident, but it has been pointed out that the England coach himself is in fine form in that particular area of Controversy.
In the Sydney Morning Herald, columnist Peter FitzSimons wrote: “There are complaints that can be made about Carey’s action, but the hardened professionals of the England cricket team are not the ones making them. .”
Amidst the grudge, there was room for some much-needed humor.
But ugly scenes were seen in Lord’s usually genteel Long Room as the Australian team who were booed off the pitch were unwelcome. The touring team alleged that several players were “verbally abused” or “physically contacted” as they returned to the locker room for lunch, prompting MCC to issue an unqualified apology.
The atmosphere in the pavilion had “gone wild over Australia”, read the Nine newspapers.
However, not all Aussies were on the same page, with former Test spinner Brad Hogg going against the grain in his homeland.