England greats turn on Jonny Bairstow over Ashes drama: 'It’s on him'

Amid the furore over Jonny Bairstow's second innings dismissal, two England greats say he only has himself to blame.

Jonny Bairstow looks at Australian players after losing his wicket.
Jonny Bairstow's dismissal sent England fans into meltdown, but some former Test stars say he only has himself to blame. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Jonny Bairstow only has himself to blame for his second innings dismissal in the second Ashes Test - at least according to two England greats, as the debate about the 'spirit of cricket' rages on in the aftermath of Lord's. Bairstow was stumped by Alex Carey after carelessly wandering out of his crease before the ball was dead and over was called, resulting in a vicious outcry from English fans as well as suggestions the home side would never have taken a wicket in such a fashion.

Both skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum have slammed the Aussies for dismissing Bairstow the way they did, which ultimately contributed to a thrilling 43-run win on day five. England has copped substantial criticism for their stance on the stumping, with a plethora of examples of England engaging in similar dismissals emerging in the days since.

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While much has been made over whether or not Australia contravened the spirit of the game, the likes of Ian Bell and Mark Butcher have laid the blame squarely at the feet of Bairstow. While both had some qualms about whether or not the dismissal was ultimately sportsmanlike or not, both said in seperate interviews that Bairstow had been careless at best by walking out of his crease.

Butcher, who played 71 Test matches for England, was scathing in his assessment. He said the complaints about the spirit of the game meant very little, as it was up to Bairstow to ensure that the ball was dead before leaving his crease, pushing back at suggestions from Stokes that he would have withdrawn the appeal if he was faced with the same situation.

"I don’t think they can say that because they weren’t in that situation,” Butcher said. “They cannot possibly know how they would have reacted in that situation. They can’t.

“Everyone can say I’d go back into the burning building to save the bloke next door. You can say that, but whether you’d actually do it, you don’t know.

“Unless you are actually in that situation, you have no idea what you would have done. Cummins’ interview at the end of it was more interesting for me because I think he was being completely genuine.

“We’d watched him do it a couple of times before, Alex threw the stumps down, we all thought that it was absolutely kosher and fine and we didn’t think for a second that there was any reason to recount the appeal. It is not up to the player to call time on tea.

"It’s not up to the player to decide when it is over. It is not up to the player to decide when the ball is dead. You make sure, it’s your responsibility (to make sure) the ball is not live before you go wandering out of your crease. It’s pretty damn simple.”

Ian Bell says Bairstow will be 'bitterly disappointed' over dismissal

Fellow England great Ian Bell was more questioning over the sportsmanship of Australia's actions, but was in agreement with Butcher that had Bairstow had the discipline to stay in his crease, he could well have helped steer England to victory.

Instead, Stokes was left to be the lone hand pushing towards triumph - something he very nearly achieved before eventually holing out for 155. The innings had shades of his 2019 heroics at Headingley, only with a much happier outcome for the visitors this time around.

Jonny Bairstow was run out by Alex Carey in a moment that has sparked debates over the 'spitir of cricket'. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Jonny Bairstow was run out by Alex Carey in a moment that has sparked debates over the 'spitir of cricket'. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

“Jonny will know that it’s on him,” Bell said. “After all was said and done after defeat on day five he would have gone back to his hotel room, closed the door, looked in the mirror and said to himself, ‘That’s my mistake.’

“In the heat of the moment, with the crowd riled and his teammates angry about what had occurred, he may have been feeling aggrieved. But once everything has cooled off, I suspect he will be bitterly disappointed that a moment of poor concentration has been so costly.

“If he had just looked behind to see what Alex Carey was up to, there would’ve been no issue.”

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