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England wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow has insisted that reports of him headbutting Australia opener Cameron Bancroft have been “blown completely out of proportion”.
It is understood that the incident occurred at The Avenue bar in Perth on opening night of England’s Ashes tour after the England team bumped into some of the Western Australia players by chance.
While it is unclear why Bairstow headbutted Bancroft, who made his international debut in the first Ashes Test, what has been deducted is the fact that nothing was reported by the venue, security staff or police.
Bairstow later apologised for his behaviour.
“Personally I think it’s been blown completely out of proportion,” Bairstow said via a statement. “That night we were allowed out, there weren’t any curfews, and I caught up with one of my friends and some of the Western Australian guys after they’d beaten Tasmania at the WACA.
“We were just in the bar having a good laugh, it was very enjoyable, Cameron and I enjoyed the evening and continued to do so. There was no intent, no malice about anything during the evening. As you could see today there was no animosity between myself, Cameron or any of the other Australian players. Hopefully we can wipe this under the table and continue what will be an exciting series.”
England head coach Trevor Bayliss expressed his disappoint over the incident as it comes a few months after all-rounder Ben Stokes was withdrawn from the Ashes squad for his alleged involvement in a street fight outside a nightclub in Bristol.
Despite this, Bayliss made it clear that there isn’t a problem when it comes to the national team and alcohol.
“It doesn’t reflect well on the image of the team, that’s for sure,” Bayliss told BBC’s Test Match Special. “It’s something we are working towards, but to say there’s a drinking culture and a big problem, that’s far off the mark.
“These guys don’t drink any more or less than any cricket team I’ve ever been involved with or seen. And they are adults as well; a lot of it has got to stem back to them, how they react and hold themselves. When they are on the drink, or after the game, that’s up to them.”
Bayliss also admitted he wasn’t surprised that Australia brought up the incident when Bairstow came out to bat during the first Test.
“It’s been the way of the world for the last number of years and that’s not going to change,” he said about stump mics picking up on-field comments. “We’ve just got to make better decisions.”
He added: “It was a chance for the Australian team to get stuck in and make people feel uncomfortable and that’s their prerogative. That’s Ashes cricket and it’s what we’ve got to deal with, which is why these types of small instances we can’t put up with.
“It’s disappointing that something like this comes up a few weeks after Bristol. Will be another stern talking to tonight. We’ve got to be very careful not to get ourselves in those situations.”
Speaking about the headbutt, England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss told reporters in Brisbane that it had occurred out of “playfulness”. Strauss was also adamant that there was “no malice” behind Bairstow’s actions.