Steve Smith has dismissed a plea for umpires to protect England's tailenders from an ongoing bouncer barrage in the Ashes.
Former England captain Mike Atherton argued in UK newspaper The Times that officials should enforce rules about intimidatory fast bowling in the showpiece Test series.
Law 41.6.1 of cricket states: "The bowling of short-pitched deliveries is dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that, taking into consideration the skill of the striker, by their speed, length, height and direction, they are likely to inflict physical injury on him/her. The fact that the striker is wearing protective equipment shall be disregarded.”
It's this rule that Atherton believes umpires should enforce after a number of England tailenders were struck by bouncers throughout the series, including Jake Ball at the Gabba.
“I did wonder aloud at the time why the umpires were so reluctant to act to protect Ball,” Atherton wrote.
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“Test cricket or not, the Law and the playing conditions are there to protect batsmen incapable of protecting themselves.”
However Smith says the tourists, who have already relinquished the urn after three Tests, would be using the same tactic if their bowlers were capable of generating express pace.
“We obviously had a plan from the start of the series that we were going to bowl a lot of short stuff to those guys, much like we did back in 2013,” Smith on Thursday.
“And no doubt if they have the kind of pace our bowlers could generate they would probably do the same thing.”
Smith even took a cheeky dig at Jimmy Anderson while taking part in a promotional tennis event with Milos Raonic on Thursday.
After Raonic hit Smith with a rising serve, Smith quipped: "Now I know how Jimmy Anderson feels."
The sly dig at England's 'slow' bowlers was echoed by former Test paceman Trent Copeland on Twitter.
"ENG would do exactly the same IF they were fast enough to do so, and the Aussie lower order players work hard enough at their batting so that it's not an issue. Sorry, but its TEST cricket. Suck it up," Copeland tweeted.
Whats missing from this article? The fact that ENG would do exactly the same IF they were fast enough to do so, and the Aussie lower order players work hard enough at their batting so that it's not an issue. Sorry, but its TEST cricket. Suck it up. #Ashes https://t.co/IFs7aH94Nc— Trent Copeland (@copes9) December 20, 2017
Ha. Have a lot of respect for Mike Atherton and his cricket brain, so certainly not anything against him, but seriously its not supposed to be easy this Test cricket caper.— Trent Copeland (@copes9) December 20, 2017
Feared former Aussie paceman Mitchell Johnson also panned Atherton.
“I don’t think it’s a fair comment,” Johnson told Fox Sports.
“Isn’t it two short balls in an over? That’s the rules. If it’s not over their heads or the shoulder restriction, how is it dangerous?"
Johnson also had a simple suggestion for any England bowler worried about being hit by a short ball.
"(England) should be working on their batting," he said.
“They’ve all got the opportunity to. Our quicks have learned how to bat.
"If I was going to dish it out, I had to be able to take it. Even if I wasn't dishing it out, it's a part of the game."
NSW batsman Daniel Hughes also weighed in, suggesting England should simply not send their tail out to bat if they couldn't handle it.
get the skipper to declare 6 down then? #mightaswell— Daniel Hughes (@Hughesy1989) December 20, 2017
The sentiment that England would be bowling the exact same way has already been witnessed.
Stuart Broad broke Aussie bowler Nathan Lyon's helmet with a nasty bouncer in the second Test.