Rishi Sunak wades in to Ashes 'cheating' row saying Australia's behaviour 'not in the spirit of cricket'

3 July 2023, 15:08 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 15:11

The Prime Minister weighed in on the controversial stumping.
The Prime Minister weighed in on the controversial stumping. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

By Jenny Medlicott

Rishi Sunak blasted Australia over the controversial dismissal of Johnny Bairstow in the second Ashes test, saying it was "not in the spirit of cricket."

The Prime Minister took the side of side England Captain Ben Stokes over the way England's wicketkeeper was stumped after leaving his crease at Lord's,.

Today video's have emerged showed Australia star Matthew Renshaw appearing to mock members of the Marylebone Cricket Club who were booing and heckling his team after the match, calling them 'cheats'.

And three members of the MCC were suspended following clashes between jeering members and Australian players Usman Khawaja and David Warner in the usually polite confines of the hallowed Lord's Long Room.

Australia won the game by 43 runs.

Asked about the actions of the Australia cricket team on Sunday, Mr Sunak's official spokesman said the PM agreed that their actions were "not in the spirit of cricket”.

"The PM agrees with Ben Stokes who said he simply wouldn't want to win a game in the manner Australia did," he added.

But Downing Street played down the prospect of Mr Sunak raising the row when he next speaks to Australian PM Anthony Albanese.

"I think the public would want the PM to focus on core issues of the UK-Australia relationship and whilst there's always going to be a friendly rivalry I think there'll be focused on more core issues," the spokesman said.

Australia won the test by 43-runs but had been booed and heckled by the packed 32-000 crowd after the controversial incident involving Bairstow.

Having ducked a bouncer, Bairstow tapped his bat behind the crease and clearly assuming that the over was finished and the ball was dead began walking down the pitch to speak to captain Ben Stokes.

But Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey threw down his stumps and this was deemed to be within the laws of the game.

Read more: It would be just not cricket if children end up copying the Australians

Read more: Jonny Bairstow hailed a ‘swift-handed hero’ by Rishi Sunak after hauling eco-activists off Ashes pitch

The Prime Minister attended the fourth day on Saturday.
The Prime Minister attended the fourth day on Saturday. Picture: Alamy
David Warner and Usman Khawaja even had to intervene with some fans in the Long Room.
David Warner and Usman Khawaja even had to intervene with some fans in the Long Room. Picture: Twitter

After the game, Stokes, who scored 155 in a magnificent attempt to rescue the game addressed the controversial Australian win saying: “The first thing that needs to be said is that it is out. But would I want to win a game in that manner? The answer for me is no.

“If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have a deep think about the whole spirit of the game. If I was fielding captain at the time I would have put a lot more pressure on the umpires to ask them what their decision was around the (end of the) over.

“Jonny was in his crease, then left his crease to come out and have the conversation between overs like every batsman does. For Australia it was the match-winning moment.”

Australia celebrated Bairstow's dismissal.
Australia celebrated Bairstow's dismissal. Picture: Alamy

He went on: “All we're thinking about is winning the series 3-2.

“We have to win these three games to get this urn back and we're a team who are obviously willing to put ourselves out there and do things against the narrative.

“So, these next three games are an even better opportunity for us than we have ever found ourselves in before.”

With the Australia win, England risks becoming the first team to lose a home Ashes since 2001.

They must win at Headingley on Thursday, as well as Old Trafford and The Oval to recover victory.

Speaking of next week’s Leeds game, Stokes added: “I definitely think it's going to be ramped up.

“When we go to Australia we get lambasted as well - 90,000 Australians at the MCG cursing at you. That's part of the sport we play, you get thousands of people who want their team to win and they'll just jump on something.”

But Aussie captain Pat Cummins stood by the dismissal of the England keeper, as he said: “It's in the laws, totally fair play. That's how I saw it.

“You see Jonny do it all the time, he did it day one to (David) Warner and in 2019 to Steve (Smith). It's what keepers do if you see an opportunity. All credit to Carey, he rolled it at the stumps, Jonny left his crease and you leave the rest to the umpires.”

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