Sat. Sep 30th, 2023


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Sunak wades into Ashes row by hitting out at Aussies as angry new video emerges

5 min read

The Prime Minister moved to back England’s cricket team in the ongoing row with Australia over tactics used by the latter in their latest Ashes win.

Following England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow’s controversial dismissal in the second Test, which helped Australia to a 2-0 lead in the series, Rishi Sunak seemed to criticise the visitors.

He also threw his weight behind England Captain Ben Stokes, agreeing with him that he would not want to win in the way the Australians had.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister agrees with Ben Stokes. He said he simply wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did.”

Asked whether Mr Sunak thought Australia’s actions were not in keeping with the spirit of cricket, his spokesman said: “Yes”.

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Ex-England star Sir Geoffrey Boycott also waded into the row, calling on the Australians to make a public apology – if they were man enough. As the rumpus rumbled on, new footage released showed the extraordinary moment when furious MCC members chanting ‘cheat, cheat, cheat’ confronted Australian cricket players as they returned to their dressing room.

A spokesman for Marylebone Cricket Club, which owns Lord’s, confirmed that three of its members had now been suspended, pending an investigation into the furious scenes at lunch on the final day of the second Ashes Test.

Moments earlier, the Australian team had incurred the wrath of the tens of thousands of England fans watching the finely poised game at the historic ground when Bairstow was controversially dismissed in an act seen by many as “not within the spirit of cricket”.

And the new footage showed how three members in the famous Lord’s Long Room then confronted the Australian players as they left the field for lunch.

Amid cries of “cheat cheat cheat”, the unnamed members of the prestigious club were seen in angry exchanges with Australian opening batters David Warner and Usman Khawaja. But Australian stars were also seen pointing and laughing at MCC members as the furious row escalated.

Following the incident, the like of which has never been seen at Lord’s before, the Australian camp expressed its disappointment at the MCC members’ behaviour. Khawaja said the scenes in the Long Room had been “pretty disrespectful” and “really disappointing”.

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About the altercation itself, he said he “wasn’t just going to stand by and cop” abuse. Khawaja said: “Lord’s is one of my favourite places to come. There’s always respect shown at Lord’s, particularly in the Members Pavilion in the Long Room, but there wasn’t today. It was very disappointing.

“If anyone asked me where the best place is to play I always say Lord’s. The crowd is great, particularly the members are great, and some of the stuff that was coming out of the members’ mouths is really disappointing and I wasn’t just going stand by and cop it. So I just talked to a few of them.

“A few of them were throwing out some pretty big allegations and I just called them up on it and they kept going, and I was like, well, this is your membership here. So I’m just pointing them out. But it’s pretty disrespectful, to be honest. I just expect a lot better from the members.”

A spokesman for Cricket Australia said: “Australian management has requested the Marylebone Cricket Club [MCC] investigate several incidents involving spectators in the members area during lunch on day five of the Lord’s Test.

“It is alleged players and staff from the Australian team were verbally abused, with some being physically contacted, as they made their way to lunch through the members area.”

The unnamed members of the MCC, whose privileged number include some of the richest and most powerful people in Britain and has Stephen Fry as its president, were suspended after the club said it was investigation allegations that Australian players were “verbally abused” or “physically contacted”.

“They will not be permitted back to Lord’s whilst the investigation takes place,” the MCC said in a statement.

The club has also apologised to the Australian team and the players involved. But the incident which sparked the rumpus continued to be fiercely debated.

The row began when England star Bairstow was batting and walked from his crease to speak to Captain Stokes believing the over was finished.

But the Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey then hurled the ball at his stumps and Bairstow was given out. While within the rules to do so, those within the England camp felt it was not within the spirit of the game.

Australia’s captain Pat Cummins then decided not to revoke the appeal to give Bairstow a reprieve – sparking chaos and controversy at the Home of Cricket.

On the pitch shortly afterwards, an irate new England batter Stuart Broad told told Cummins: “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in cricket”, before turning to Carey and warning him: “That’s all you’ll ever be remembered for.”

Despite the furore, Cummins later insisted the stumping was “fair” but many of the usually sedate MCC members disagreed. But after the game, which England went on to narrowly lose by 43 runs, home captain Stokes also poured oil on the fire.

He said: “Would I want to win a game in that manner? No. If the shoe was on the other foot I’d have had a think about the whole spirit of the game.”

And England coach Brendon McCullum, himself a New Zelander, said neither he nor the rest of his team would be having a beer with any of the Australians “any time soon”.

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