Forget the benign Marmite’s-better-than-Vegemite campaigns of pervious Ashes, this year’s series is bordering on all out war between the two countries after Australia’s controversial win in the second Test at the Oval on Sunday night.
For those living under a rock, English batsmen Johnny Bairstow strayed out of his crease in the cliffhanger match only to have his stumps thrown down by Aussie keeper Alex Carey. Most agreed Bairstow was out, however argued that the Australians’ actions weren’t in the spirit of the game.
The war is now being fuelled by each nation’s newspapers – the UK tabloids suggesting the Aussies are nothing but a pack of cheats, while the Aussie papers returning fire, painting the Poms as a bunch of whingers and sore losers.
The Kerry Stokes-owned The West Australian has caused particular ire back in Old Blighty after it featured England skipper Ben Stokes in a nappy and with a dummy alongside the headline “CRYBABIES”.
Stokes has since responded to the front page on Twitter. “That’s definitely not me,” he joked in response. “Since when did I bowl with the new ball?”
News Corp’s tabloids were also quick to praise the Aussie’s win that sees them take a 2-0 lead with a further three games to play.
Yesterday’s Melbourne’s Herald Sun front page screamed “BAZBAWL”, a play on the baz ball style of play and bawling Englishmen.
Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph was hardly understated either. “Our message to the hypocritical, sanctimonious, whinging Poms,” The Terror’s front page declared, “who can’t accept that were beaten fair and square… WE’RE 2-UP, BABY!”
The Australian’s cartoon today
Over in the UK, the British line of reporting was that the Aussies had cheated to win and ruined the gentlemanly spirit of the game.
Writing in UK’s The Telegraph, cricket scribe Oliver Brown was scathing of the Aussies.
Brown criticised captain Cummins’ side for allegedly killing “decorum”, as well as “codes of honour and mateship”.
The stumping was labelled as “dastardly” and “beyond the pale”, while he said that Australia’s makeover since Sandpapergate (when the team was busted rubbing sandpaper on the ball in 2019) had now lost all credibility.
Here’s some of the UK paper’s reporting:
In a delicious irony, footage of Johnny Bairstow trying the exact same stumping attempt on Aussie batsman Marnus Labuschagne has also resurfaced.
— Sam Djodan (@samdjodan) July 2, 2023
As journalist Nick Bryant noted in a column in Nine’s newspapers today: “Had England’s wicketkeeper – one Jonny Bairstow – pulled off the same stumping against, say, David Warner or Steve Smith, the grandstands at Lord’s would have erupted.”
The furore has also bubbled up to the top offices in the land. UK’s prime minister Rishi Sunak weighed in on events, his official spokesman told reporters yesterday: “The Prime Minister agrees with (England captain) Ben Stokes. He said he simply wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did.”
And even Albo’s had a crack too. The prime minister mocked the English chant of “Same old Aussies, always cheating,” by tweeting “Same old Aussies – always winning.”
I’m proud of our men’s and women’s cricket teams, who have both won their opening two #Ashes matches against England.
Same old Aussies – always winning!
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) July 3, 2023
Sunak’s response provoked a a response from Australia’s former foreign minister, Alexander Downer, who is working in the UK advising the British government on immigration matters.
Downer told British tabloid The Sun: “It’s a bit undignified to go around complaining that the team that defeated you cheated when the team doesn’t make the decision, the umpire did – and it was consistent, as everybody has pointed out, with the rules of cricket.
“The trouble is, it makes England look like bad sports, bad losers,” Downer said.
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