Australia remove nice-guy masks as they ramp up sledging against England with 'Bristol' jibes aimed at Ben Stokes
Australia removed their nice-guy masks on Saturday as they goaded Ben Stokes with sledges about ‘Bristol’ and were asked to cool their chat by the umpires midway through the final Test.
The stump microphones picked up the close fielders talking openly about Bristol, the city where Stokes was involved in the street fracas two years ago that cost him a place on the 2017-18 Test tour of Australia and led to him being cleared of affray in court.
The Australians arrived here intent on being on their best behaviour in a bid to clean up their image following last year’s ball-tampering scandal.
Australia removed their nice-guy masks on Saturday as they goaded Ben Stokes with sledges
David Warner was uncharacteristically quiet on his return from a 12-month ban but has become more vocal in the second half of the series. On Saturday, Stokes appeared to be involved in an angry altercation with him as the players left the field for lunch, seemingly angered by comments aimed towards him.
England’s players have noticed Warner’s behaviour deteriorating since Headingley where his restrained demeanour gave way to screaming celebrations when taking catches and a return to the ‘chat’ he was renowned for prior to suspension.
The umpires earlier got involved at the drinks breaks as niggly comments towards the batsmen increased.
Australia captain Tim Paine was asked to control his players with Matthew Wade (pictured, top, with England captain Joe Root and, above, with umpire Kumar Dharmasena) in particular clearly having a lot to say.
Undeterred, Wade — known for being vocal behind the stumps — could later be heard giving advice to Dharmasena after a leg before appeal against Stokes was turned down.
‘It’s competitive Test cricket and people are going to talk to each other,’ said Paine afterwards. ‘I don’t know why it’s such an issue. No one is swearing, no one is abusing anyone.’
All-rounder Ben Stokes celebrates reaching fifty for England during day three of the fifth Test