Initial reports that England turned their back on a long-standing Ashes tradition at the end of one of the most memorable series they have ever had with Australia have proved a misunderstanding.
It is customary for the two teams to share a drink together after the dust has settled on the final Test of a series, but there was no such camaraderie following the close of play at The Oval, where England won another thriller by 49 runs to draw the series level at 2-2.
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Reporters from both AAP and SEN at the ground spotted Australian players looking over to the hosts’ dressing rooms multiple times after play before giving up on waiting and leaving the ground at about 10.45pm.
“Didn’t look like the Australian and English teams had their customary post-series drinks tonight at The Oval,” SEN’s Bharat Sundaresan said.
“Did notice the Aussies hanging around for quite a while waiting and Steve Smith even peering into the English rooms a couple of times before giving up.”
Sundaresan later added: “Now hearing that the Aussie players did ask the England team about getting together half a dozen times but didn’t get a response and that allegedly the home team stayed behind locked doors.”
But England skipper Ben Stokes sought to clear up the real reason his side failed to open its doors to the visitors.
“To clarify… Our wrap took longer than expected because of multiple last time events,” he wrote on Twitter. We decided to meet up in the night club rather than the dressing room.”
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The Australian players were disappointed not to have a drink with the English after the game, but met up later on. Credit: Twitter/Bharat Sundaresan
It comes just weeks after England coach Brendon McCullum declared his side had no interest in social relations with the Australian team in the wake of Alex Carey’s heavily debated dismissal of Jonny Bairstow during the second Test at Lord’s.
“I can’t imagine we’ll be having a beer any time soon,” McCullum said after the Lord’s Test.
“From our point of view, we’ve got three Test matches to try and land some blows and try and win the Ashes and that’s where our focus will be.”
He later went on to say: “When you become older and more mature, you realise the game and the spirit of it is something you need to protect.
“You have to make decisions in the moment, and they can have effects on games and people’s characters.
“By the letter of the law, he is out. Jonny was not trying to take a run. It is one of those difficult ones to swallow and you look at the small margins, it is incredibly disappointing.
“But lots of people will have their opinion on both sides of the fence. The most disappointing thing is that it will be the most talked about event of a great Test match.”
Jonny Bairstow of England is stumped by Alex Carey of Australia during Day 5 of the Lord’s Test. Credit: Gareth Copley/Getty ImagesWicketkeeper Alex Carey would have no qualms repeating his controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow. Credit: AP
England skipper Ben Stokes echoed his coach’s view when asked about the incident after the game, referencing again “the spirit of the game”.
“If the shoe was on the other foot, I would probably just have to have a little think around the whole spirit of the game,” Stokes said after the Lord’s Test.
“I would have had to have a real think around the spirit of the game, and would I want to potentially win a game with something like that happening — and it would be no.”
Ugly scenes in the Lord’s Long Room erupted after the incident, with three MCC members expelled from the club for the abuse they hurled at the Aussie players in reaction to the dismissal, which is legal under the rules their predecessors wrote.
Usman Khawaja checked up when he heard the abuse. Credit: Sky Sports
Though tensions between the two sides had appeared to ease in the three Test matches since, with Stokes even indicating after the game that relations between the two sides had a friendly tone.
“That’s the progression of franchise cricket to be honest,” Stokes said on Monday evening.
“There are a lot of players who have relationships with the opposition now, not just England and Australia, but with other teams around the world.
“Especially with the IPL, you can spend nine weeks with someone who you are playing against (in international cricket).
“I spent two or three years at Rajasthan with Steve Smith. You get to know each other and stuff like that.”
Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins share the trophy after the series was drawn. Credit: Alex Davidson/Getty Images
England sources have since told AAP that they expected to drink with Australia following their meetings and extended retirement presentations, but were surprised to learn the tourists had left.
The hosts are putting the drama down to a misunderstanding.
Monday night’s lack of socialising comes after a similar incident following the 2017 Border-Gavaskar, where Virat Kohli’s Indian team refused to drink with Australia following a fiery series.
– With AAP
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