On the eve of the Perth Test the tourists’ hopes of focusing on the cricket continued to be tested with queries about the team’s off-field culture
England captain Joe Root yesterday sought to draw a line under the litany of off-field incidents that have dogged the team throughout the Ashes, even as a senior player admitted they would continue to haunt the side during the third Test in Perth.
Two-nil down to Australia after defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, England must at least cobble a draw at the WACA to keep the five-match series alive, at a venue where they have lost their last seven matches.
On the eve of the Perth Test, however, the tourists’ hopes of focusing on the cricket continued to be tested with queries about the team’s off-field culture.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan criticised the side for behaving like “students” on tour in the wake of the suspension handed to England Lions squad member Ben Duckett for pouring a drink over the head of pace bowler James Anderson.
British media, meanwhile, reported that England coach Trevor Bayliss had threatened players that careers would be on the line if another off-field distraction arose following the Ben Stokes suspension and Jonny Bairstow’s ‘head-butt’ incident.
Having already been quizzed repeatedly about his team’s culture, Root (pictured) hoped that his players could put the focus back on cricket and away from the bar with a good performance at the WACA.
“You’ve got to take it in your stride, you’ve got to move on and as you’re fully aware from our point of view, it’s very disappointing how things have turned out so far,” he told reporters at the venue.
“It’s about putting that right now, this week I think the thing that for me is that we’re so close to getting it right. We’ve shown that we’re in this series, it’s just pulling that all together.”
The off-field incidents have been used as ammunition on the field by Australia. Captain Steve Smith claimed his team had unsettled Bairstow in the series-opener at the Gabba by sledging him about his head-butt ‘greeting’ of Australia’s opening batsman Cameron Bancroft during a boozy night out in Perth last month.
Anderson in his column for British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph took a swipe at England’s coaching staff over their strategy during the second Test defeat, saying he and his fellow pacemen had not bowled full enough at Adelaide Oval.
“It was an oversight from the players on the field but also from the coaches who could have had an input too, which is frustrating,” he wrote.
Root moved quickly to play down any hint of disharmony, however. “It’s probably slightly harsh to put the blame onto the coaches Ultimately, us guys on the field, we’re the ones that are responsible for what we’re doing out there,” he said. – Reuters