Steven Smith cannot control his laughter at the press conference as Cameron Bancroft narrates the Jonny Bairstow headbutt incident    Getty Images
Steven Smith cannot control his laughter at the press conference as Cameron Bancroft narrates the Jonny Bairstow headbutt incident Getty Images

England captain Joe Root has announced that his side will use Australia’s amusement over Jonny Bairstow’s headbutt controversy as “motivation” for the second Ashes Test. Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft, at the post-match conference of the first Test, were seen in splits as the latter went on to describe Bairstow’s “weird” way of greeting people.

England have plenty of distractions. Ben Stokes’ suspension drama continues, and Root wants his side to move on from anything that affects their focus. He, however, is not happy with Australia for manipulating the Bairstow incident.

Root spoke to the press on the eve of the second Test at Adelaide.

Using Bairstow banter as motivation

“Absolutely. You look at the pictures from that press conference and I think it’s very important you be very careful how you interpret that.

“I’d like to think that Steve Smith has a good amount of humility about him and that he’s laughing at the scenario and the comments rather than the situation of things,” Root said.

Further expressing his disappointment, Root added, “Well, if that’s not motivation to the players I don’t know what is. At the end of the game you are obviously very disappointed but to see a reaction like that in a press conference is… I mean if that can’t get you up for the next game then I don’t know what can.”

On-field banters

Bairstow’s greeting headbutt to Bancroft made news and following this, England’s director Andrew Strauss forced a midnight curfew on the side. Englishmen are miffed at Australians for sledging Bairstow with the headbutt incident. The ploy worked in Australia’s favour as they were bowled out for 195 in the second innings in Brisbane.

“I think there’s a place for a bit of banter out on the field, as long as it stays as banter and doesn’t become more than that,” Root said. “And if it does, the umpires need to make sure it has a line that stops at the same place for both sides. You want there to be a bit of niggle and a bit of banter flying around. It’s good for the game, it’s good to watch, it’s good to be involved in. But there are certain things that people know they shouldn’t say on the field and I think it’s important that both sides, not just one side, get that right and don’t overstep any more.”

The Ashes 2017-18: Australia's 'grown men' do not need curfew, says Darren Lehmann
The Ashes 2017-18: Australia's 'grown men' do not need curfew, says Darren Lehmann

Author’s take

Australia can go overboard with sledging. Root, who himself is a prankster, is right to defend his side. Bancroft himself mentioned that what Bairstow had no malice intention. Using this incident as a part of sledging does not leave a good taste, but then you know what to expect when you are dealing with the ruthless Aussies.

Let’s hope both sides put this incident behind and we get to witness some quality action in the historic day-night Ashes Test at Adelaide.