Playing down the incident in the Perth bar where his younger teammate Ben Duckett poured a drink over him, England pace spearhead James Anderson believes the team culture should not be questioned due to the recent off-field controversies.
Controversies have marred England’s Ashes campaign and not surprisingly the focus has been on them instead of the series where the visitors have lost the first two games. Before the start of the series, England were rocked by the Ben Stokes‘ incident as he was omitted from the squad after being involved in a brawl outside a pub. The all-rounder is still under investigation and is waiting for the final decision. It was followed by another incident in a bar when Jonny Bairstow was accused of headbutting Australia opener, Cameron Bancroft.
And even before the team could recover from those controversies and the two heavy defeats, their miseries were further compounded due to Duckett’s conduct in the same Perth Bar where the headbutt incident took place. Consequently, Duckett has been suspended from all England Lions games and was fined by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after the incident.
Anderson, however, played down the incident, stating that even the silliest of things are now being used to question the team’s culture. At the same time, he also admitted that the players need to be smarter in the current scenario.
“The incident with Ben Duckett was not malicious and was a bit of a non-event but we understand that in this climate we have to be smarter in the future,” he wrote in a column for The Telegraph on Tuesday (December 12). “The frustrating thing is that what was a pretty silly incident would have gone unnoticed before but now puts an unfair question mark over our culture.”
“We have been working really hard and every now and then on a tour like this, you need a release. We don’t shout about the things we do behind the scenes. We are not those type of people but, for example, five players from the squad have today gone to see an England fan who is terminally ill and can’t come and watch the Test match. That sort of thing is not reported, which is fine, but is a fairer representation of this group of players rather than a couple of minor incidents in bars that have been blown out of all proportion,” he added.
The Duckett incident might have given the hosts another way of riling up the visitors and Anderson also acknowledged it. However, he made it clear that the team is prepared for all the banter.
“I know Australia will use the Duckett incident as a way of goading us, or taking the mickey. Fine. It will probably be funnier than what they have spouted at me so far in this series. They jump on anything to have a go at you so I am expecting a bit of lip. I have no problem with that,” he said.
“We are all aware that from now on even a minor incident will be seized upon. There is also a bigger picture. The ECB have their sponsors and we have a job as role models to the next generation of cricketers who play this game so we have to stay away from silly things that can be misconstrued,” he added.
Anderson further shifted his focus to the all-important series, saying the players have already moved on from the incident and are focusing on getting back in the five-Test series.
“The players have moved on already. Our main focus is getting back in the series. That is all everyone is talking about. The meeting we just had was all about bowling plans, batting plans and how we see ourselves performing in this Test. Nothing is going to distract us from winning here,” he wrote.
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