Rishi Sunak’s Australian counterpart has said the Prime Minister did not appear to have been taught the importance of “staying in your crease” following his complaints about Jonny Bairstow’s controversial Ashes dismissal.
Sunak, a keen cricket fan, did not think the way the England batsman was stumped during the final day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s was in the spirit of the game.
Stay in your crease
But Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese appeared to make light of Sunak’s criticism on Tuesday.
“Prime Minister Sunak’s disappointment is understandable,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“But he must not have had the same lessons I got in primary school at St Joseph’s Camperdown: ‘Stay in your crease’.
“Hope you’re well, PM.”
Sunak’s spokesman refused to escalate the sporting rift between the allies.
Asked for a response to Mr Albanese’s latest remarks, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, in short, I think I’ll be straight batting answers on this one.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Albanese gave his backing to men’s team captain Pat Cummins after the fast bowler refused to withdraw an appeal for Bairstow’s dismissal.
In a tongue-in-cheek swipe at British cries of foul play, Mr Albanese tweeted: “Same old Aussies – always winning!”, a play on the Barmy Army’s “Same old Aussies, always cheating” chant.
England batter Bairstow was stumped in bizarre circumstances during a tense final day on Sunday.
Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey threw down the stumps after Bairstow ducked the final ball of the over and set off to talk to partner Ben Stokes in the apparent belief the over had ended.
According to the letter of the law, Bairstow was beyond his batting crease when the bails were knocked down so, after a review by the third umpire, he was given out.
But some cricket purists argue it was an unsporting move given the Yorkshire batter appeared to think the ball was no longer in play.
Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Sunak, who was at Lord’s on Saturday, agreed with the views of England captain Stokes about the incident.
The No 10 official said the Conservative Party leader concurred with Stokes that he “wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did”.
Asked whether Sunak believed Australia’s actions were not in keeping with the spirit of cricket, his spokesman said: “Yes.”
Support for Aussie cricket team
But Mr Albanese made clear that the men’s Australian cricket team has Canberra’s support.
“I’m proud of our men’s and women’s cricket teams, who have both won their opening two Ashes matches against England,” he posted on Twitter.
“Australia is right behind Alyssa Healy (and) Pat Cummins and their teams and look forward to welcoming them home victorious.”
Anger in the crowd at the manner of Bairstow’s exit spilled over in the usually restrained Long Room at Lord’s, where Australian players Usman Khawaja and David Warner were involved in heated exchanges with jeering members – three of whom were later suspended by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
The row is expected to produce a lively atmosphere when the third Test of the men’s series gets under way at Headingley in Leeds on Thursday, as England look to halve the deficit against their rivals.
Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said England should not expect “fair play” from Australia as he urged the players on in the next contest.
Mr Mercer told Sky News: “It wasn’t actually cheating this time. Previously they did the whole sandpaper thing and when they got caught they were crying all over the media.
“I don’t think you’re going to get any particular fair play out of these.
“I think you’ve just got to give them a good pasting when you get the chance, and I hope that happens at the next Test match.”
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