Trevor Bayliss, England’s head coach, has promised that his team will receive another “stern talking-to”, following the incident where Jonny Bairstow headbutted Australia’s opening batsman, Cameron Bancroft, on the first night of England’s Ashes tour.
Speaking in the wake of England’s ten-wicket defeat in the first Test at Brisbane, Bayliss admitted his disappointment that another England player had become involved in an off-field issue so soon after Ben Stokes’ arrest in Bristol, but reiterated the team’s stance that there had been ‘no malice’ involved in the incident and that it had been ‘blown out of all proportion’.
Bayliss confirmed that the incident had occurred on the first night of England’s tour back in October, when the team touched in Perth. There were no curfews imposed that night, and though Bairstow was one of the England players who received a fine for their part in the events leading up to the Bristol incident, Bayliss insisted that no disciplinary action was anticipated on this occasion.
“It doesn’t reflect well on the image of the team, that’s for sure,” Bayliss told BBC’s Test Match Special. “It’s something we are working towards, but to say there’s a drinking culture and a big problem, that’s far off the mark.
“These guys don’t drink any more or less than any cricket team I’ve ever been involved with or seen. And they are adults as well; a lot of it has got to stem back to them, how they react and hold themselves. When they are on the drink, or after the game, that’s up to them.”
Speaking after the first Test had finished, England captain Joe Root said too much had been made of the situation. “The story over Jonny – I think a mountain’s been made out of a molehill as far as that’s concerned, we’ve just got to move on and concentrate on our cricket as a squad.’’
Bairstow addressed the media with a brief statement after play, not taking any questions. “Personally I think it’s been blown completely out of proportion. That night we were allowed out, there weren’t any curfews, and I caught up with one of my friends and some of the Western Australian guys after they’d beaten Tasmania at the WACA.
“We were just in the bar having a good laugh, it was very enjoyable, Cameron and I enjoyed the evening and continued to do so. There was no intent, no malice about anything during the evening. As you could see today there was no animosity between myself, Cameron or any of the other Australian players. Hopefully we can wipe this under the table and continue what will be an exciting series.”
The incident is understood to have picked up via the stump microphones when Bairstow came out to bat during the Brisbane Test, with Bancroft now a member of Australia’s Test team having been playing for Western Australia at the time.