Aussie wicketkeeper Alex Carey has delivered a compelling comeback to critics in England after breaking his silence on the Jonny Bairstow stumping furore that has overshadowed the Ashes series. Carey's now infamous stumping of Bairstow at Lord's has been debated around the world, but the man at the centre of the controversy says he wouldn't change a thing if he had his time again.
Speaking for the first time since the most talked about Ashes drama in recent history, Carey has revealed how it was all part of a plan on Australia's part to remove Bairstow in the fourth innings at Lord's. Carey has been savaged by fans and the UK media ever since the Lord's stumping, accused by current and former England players of breaching the spirit of cricket.
However, Carey said he would not hesitate to get the England batter out the same way if presented with another chance, and denied there was any sinister in Bairstow's dismissal. "We were switched on to the fact that it was a bouncer plan and it felt like Jonny was pretty switched on to getting out of the way, he wasn't playing any shots," Carey explained.
"When he ducked, his first movement was pretty much out of his crease. So instinctively I grabbed the ball, threw the stumps down and the rest is history. As soon as I got it, I threw it straight away. Once the bail has come off, it's up to the third umpire to deem it out or not out, or the on-field umpires.
"It's been a little bit surprising how it's played out." Asked if he would do it again despite the blowback from England fans and players, Carey was unequivocal.
"If there was an opportunity to get a stumping, I definitely would," he said. England have been accused of hypocrisy after the outrage that followed the Bairstow dismissal, with historical footage since surfacing about one of the keeper's own questionable stampings. The fact Bairstow tried to get Aussie batter Marnus Labuschagne out in similar circumstances earlier in the Lord's Test have also not been lost on Aussie fans.
As the hysteria around the incident has died down, so too the narrative has shifted to place the blame on Bairstow's shoulders, with Aussie cricket great Ricky Ponting among those to slam the batter for failing to respect the opposition team and umpires by walking out of his crease at will. Carey said he'd learnt his lesson the hard way after wandering out on debut in Adelaide A grade and being stumped.
Alex Carey learnt his lesson after similar stumping
"My first A-grade game in South Australia, I was out that way," Carey said. "And when I walked off, I was pretty disappointed. Captain came up to me, he said, 'You'll remember to keep your foot behind the line next time'.
"From my point of view, I wasn't called on it about the spirit of cricket when I tried to do it previously. And when I was given out in the same sort of manner, I didn't question it either."
Carey is on track to break the record for most dismissals in a Test series, having taken 20 of 22 chances presented to him in the Ashes, in stark contrast to his opposite Bairstow, who has struggled with the gloves. Bairstow has cost England 191 runs through his eight misses, while also letting through 46 byes.
Carey said this series had been among the most challenging, given the conditions with the ball often swinging after the bat and seaming unpredictably. England's style of play had also made it feel more like a white-ball match, with the hosts rarely leaving the ball and forcing Carey to put more miles in his legs getting to the wickets.
"We have seen some variable bounce as well on some wickets that have been drier than we have seen in the past," Carey said. That first Test in Edgbaston, I was running up to the stumps a lot. I said to the slips, it is a one-dayer basically. We have seen the amount of kilometres in our legs, we do a fair bit of work."
Carey and the Aussies are 2-1 up in the series are busy preparing for the fourth Test at Old Trafford, which gets underway on Wednesday. A win would see Pat Cummins' side become the first Australian side since 2001 to win an Ashes series in England, while a draw would still be enough to retain the famous urn, with one Test remaining.
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