‘England should focus on themselves…not Spirit of Cricket’

Australian skipper Pat Cummins said that England should look at themselves and their performance rather than invoking the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ amid their anger at Jonny Bairstow’s run out during the second Test at Lord’s.

The dismissal on the final day of the second Test, which Australia ultimately won by 43 runs despite an outstanding 155 from Ben Stokes, infuriated the home team. During this moment, Australian wicketkeeper Carey practically displayed ‘smart work’ as he knocked the bails off the stump as English batsman Bairstow was out of his crease with a direct throw. Jonny Bairstow in dilemma, walked back to the pavilion after scoring 10 runs off 22 balls while hitting two boundaries.

Bairstow left the final ball of Cameron Green’s over alone to the wicketkeeper and started walking outside the crease assuming the ball was dead. However, an alert Carey realised there was an opportunity to run the batter out and effected a directed hit at the striker’s end to catch Bairstow well short.

In what could be a defining moment in the series, Bairstow was left fuming as the Aussies celebrated around him.

According to law 20.1.2 of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)’s Laws of Cricket, “the ball shall be considered to be dead when it is clear to the bowler’s end umpire that the fielding side and both batters at the wicket have ceased to regard it as in play.”

Carey, having watched Bairstow make it a habit of walking outside the crease early, used the chance to run the batter out.

In this case, the fielding side clearly considered the ball to still be in play and hence it wasn’t a dead ball.

Since then, reaction has reached a fever pitch on both sides of the world, with the Prime Ministers of each country getting involved.

“For what I think is a pretty common non-event, it does seem like everyone has a pretty strong opinion about it,” Cummins said as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

“I do not think there is any discussion; it is out. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would not be looking at the opposition, I would probably be thinking [about] our own batter, and would be thinking it is pretty silly,” he added.

If England wants to win back the Ashes, they must become only the second team in history to rally from a 2-0 deficit. When asked if their response to Bairstow’s firing was an attempt to distract from losses, Cummins avoided directly addressing the question but added how impressed he was with how his team handled the situation, from the initial moment and the confrontations in the Long Room to the 48 hours since, when the players themselves have remained silent unless specifically asked.

“I know what our team does, and that is we concentrate on ourselves,” he said.

“When we have not been playing up to scratch, we look pretty deeply at what we are doing, and try to make amends. We do not apportion blame to conditions or opposition or anything else going on. I am really proud of how our boys have conducted themselves [on] this tour, especially on that day five. I thought the way they maintained respect for the opposition, the umpires [and] the crowd, their dignity was first-class.”

Even Joe Root had his say about the controversial runout.

“I think Ben spoke very well on it at the end of the game. As a team, we want to play our cricket a certain way and want to leave a certain legacy,” Root said.

“As a player, you want to play the game as how you want to play it. It was within the rules; it was technically out. If you are happy with that, then fine. If not, I do not think you can [criticise] other people that play the game slightly differently,” he added.

Cummins, doubted his view would change. “Maybe ask me in years to come. I do not think a conversation about the spirit of cricket even comes into a dismissal like that. It was plain and simple a stumping.”

Cummins is expecting a hostile crowd at Headingley, where England pulled off a memorable one wicket win courtesy heroics of Ben Stokes. However, it does not bother him.

“People pay for their tickets, they can turn up… whilst I hope that I would never go to a sporting event and try to abuse players, some people do. I am sure it will be a pretty fiery week from the crowd. But again, we’re on the field. I think in Australia, we are as guilty as anyone a lot of the time. So I think it is reality, to be honest,” said Cummins.

“If you are going to play professional sport, unfortunately, that is one of the things that you are going to have to deal with. It is nothing new. I think you could talk about it till the cows come home, but I doubt it is going to make much of a difference,” he added.

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