Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss has confirmed that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) won’t punish wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow for headbutting Australia opener Cameron Bancroft.
The incident occurred at The Avenue bar in Perth on October 29 when the England team happened to bump into the Western Australia squad.
While the headbutt went unreported until details of it emerged during the fourth day of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, both Bairstow and Bancroft have said that there was nothing malicious about the incident.
“These guys are not thugs,” Strauss was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “These are good, honest, hard-working cricketers who sacrifice a lot to play for England. They have done some great things in an England shirt, and I will back them on that to the hilt – because I know them.
“The guys were out for a couple of drinks, there was no curfew in place [and] ]they were free to enjoy an evening out.”
Nonetheless, Strauss admitted that he was surprised by Bairstow’s actions, especially as it occurred just a few months after all-rounder Ben Stokes was withdrawn from the Ashes squad for his alleged involvement in a street fight outside a nightclub in Bristol.
“Jonny Bairstow mentioned to me that he ‘bumped’ Cameron Bancroft,” the former England captain said. “It’s a greeting he does with his mates – and he assured me there was no malice, no intent, no aggression in what he did.
“Although I’m somewhat surprised he would choose to do such a thing, I’m taking him at his word. As such, I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to be launching disciplinary proceedings against him.
“I have clearly reminded him of his responsibilities as an England cricketer – and I think he has obviously seen first-hand how in an Ashes series, with a lot of noise and attention and interest, small issues can become bigger issues.
“We have done a lot of work over the last five or six weeks, making sure the players understand their responsibilities and obligations and coming up with a code of conduct for them.
“I think we also need to understand and recognise that sport is moving on. What might have been acceptable in the old days is no longer acceptable, and we as an England cricket team … need to move along with that.
“I think the players needs to be smarter. That’s the reality – they are adults, intelligent adults, and at times they are not using that intelligence in the right way.”
Strauss added that Bairstow was shocked to see the incident create a media frenzy.
“He is shocked,” Strauss said. “He is surprised this has been made a big issue, but I think also he is quite contrite and realises what he thought was a bit of fun at the time can in the build-up to an Ashes series be construed as something completely different.”