England galvanized as a team ahead of 2nd test: Anderson

December 1, 2017
England's cricket captain Joe Root comments about the Ashes series in Adelaide, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Australia will play England in the second cricket test match of the Ashes series beginning Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — England paceman Jimmy Anderson says tensions between his team and Australia ahead of the second Ashes test have only helped strengthen the touring squad.

Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow head-butted Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft when the pair crossed paths at a Perth pub during England’s first night on tour in Western Australia. But the story didn’t break until late on the fourth day of the first test in Brisbane, after banter from the Australian fielders was picked up by a broadcaster via on-field microphones.

Both Bairstow and Bancroft have played down the incident, agreeing there was no malice in it. No disciplinary action was taken against Bairstow by England.

Some England players have been suspicious about how and when news of the head-butting incident went public, which was only after Australia got on top in the first test before cruising to a 10-wicket win.

“If anything, it will galvanize us as a group,” Anderson said at the Adelaide Oval, venue for the first day-night test in Ashes history beginning Saturday. “We’re all going to get behind Jonny, who is an important player in our team. If we need any more incentive to get back in the series, it will give us that.”

Anderson has also accused the Australian players of concocting “a deliberate ploy to say things close to the stump (microphones) so it would be picked up by the media.”

“It’s kind of to be expected,” Anderson said. “In an Ashes series there is always something that crops up and they waited until they were ahead in the game to do it. It’s up to us to try to deal with that.”

Australia swept England 5-0 the last time the Ashes was contested in Australia in 2013-14, rattling the touring batsmen with some fearsome fast bowling. The first test of this series was an even contest for the first three days, but captain Steve Smith’s unbeaten 141 gave Australia the advantage and then his bowlers dismissed England for 195 in the second innings to set up a victory chase of just 170.

On Friday, England captain Joe Root said his squad was upset with Smith laughing heavily at the post-match news conference in Brisbane when Bancroft recounted, in often joking fashion, his initial meeting with Bairstow.

“If that’s not motivation to the players I don’t know what is. Seriously,” Root said. “Hopefully that will work massively in our favor. I know it’s an Ashes series, there is a lot on the line and naturally you are going to be motivated.”

Smith, who confirmed Australia would take an unchanged XI into the Adelaide test, on Friday stressed that he “definitely wasn’t mocking” England after the match in Brisbane. Smith said during that news conference last Monday that the line of questioning on the head-butting was bordering on the absurd, and he couldn’t believe that the first questions Bancroft faced after his test debut were about the episode with Bairstow.

“It will be interesting to see whether they change up their tactics ...with the pink ball things can happen pretty quickly,” Smith said, trying to return the focus to the second test.

Australia batsman Peter Handscomb says the home team isn’t getting ahead of itself after just one victory, particularly as England holds the Ashes after a 3-2 victory at home in 2015.

“We have had a good game in Brisbane but that’s gone now,” Handscomb said. “I suppose complacency can set in but that’s something we are obviously going to not try and do. It’s completely different conditions as well, being a day-night test, pink ball, but we have got to make sure we do things right by our own team and play our own game.”

Australia has won both day-night tests at the Adelaide Oval.

The Australians beat New Zealand inside three days in 2015 — in the first day-night test match — and defeated South Africa by seven wickets last year.

Josh Hazlewood took 6-70 against New Zealand and 4-68 against South Africa in those Adelaide matches, and is coming off an four-wicket haul in Brisbane in the first test, including three in the second innings.

England has warmed up in Adelaide in the day-night environment, winning a tour match here against a Cricket Australia XI by 192 runs, with Anderson taking 3-12.


Australia lineup: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.