The Ashes: Bairstow unaffected by ‘headbutt’ rumpus, insists England team-mate Woakes

England's Jonny Bairstow. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA
England's Jonny Bairstow. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA
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YORKSHIRE’S Jonny Bairstow has remained his ‘bubbly’ self in the England camp, despite the furore over his ill-judged ‘headbutt’ on Australia’s Cameron Bancroft.

Team-mate Chris Woakes was also able to provide a reassuring update on Bairstow’s state of mind after his benign but strange greeting for opening batsman Bancroft caused such a stir towards the end of the Brisbane Test.

Australia captain Steve Smith suggested the hosts had successfully distracted Bairstow by reminding him of the incident, when he first met opener Bancroft in a Perth bar a month ago, before the wicketkeeper holed out to third-man in England’s second innings at the Gabba.

Woakes disagrees, however, and reports Bairstow has not gone into his shell following the strange episode.

“I’m not actually sure that did get in his mind,” he said. “Jonny’s been himself. “He’s very talkative, a very bouncy, bubbly character as always.

“He’s a great guy to have in the squad, a great friend of mine as well, and I enjoy spending time with him.”

England's Chris Woakes in action at The Gabba. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

England's Chris Woakes in action at The Gabba. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

A further consequence is that ECB director Andrew Strauss has imposed a midnight tour curfew on the players. Woakes confirmed that, but insists it has little relevance - certainly to him.

“There is a curfew of midnight, but that doesn’t really affect us a huge amount,” he said.

“Very rarely are we out past that time anyway. Personally, it doesn’t affect me in any way.

“We’re allowed a drink at times, (but) we’re not allowed to overstep that mark. We’re here to win the series; we’re not here just to take part.

I’m not actually sure that did get in his mind,” he said. “Jonny’s been himself. “He’s very talkative, a very bouncy, bubbly character as always.

Chris Woakes on England team-mate Jonny Bairstow

“If that helps us to do that, then so be it.”

After England’s 10-wicket defeat at The Gabba on Sunday, Woakes admitted that England’s players would welcome Ben Stokes back on to the Ashes tour like a shot – while admitting he was still wary of interpreting his flight to New Zealand as a stepping stone to Australia

As Stokes was disembarking in his native Christchurch to see his extended family and - more significantly to the wider world - agree a deal to play for Canterbury Kings, Chris Woakes was responding in Adelaide to the all-rounder’s surprise long-haul journey from Durham.

England are preparing for this week’s inaugural day-night Ashes Test, already 1-0 down after their 10-wicket defeat in Brisbane, and Woakes acknowledged Stokes’s assistance at some point in the series would be a huge help.

New Zealand-born England cricket star Ben Stokes is surrounded by media as he arrives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Picture: AP/Mark Baker

New Zealand-born England cricket star Ben Stokes is surrounded by media as he arrives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Picture: AP/Mark Baker

The mercurial match-winner is expected to play for Canterbury in New Zealand’s domestic Ford Trophy on Sunday - also the second day of the second Test at the Adelaide Oval.

If he is to play any part in the Ashes, he must surely first of all be cleared by Avon & Somerset Police of any criminal charge after being arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm during a late-night fracas in Bristol in September.

Should that happen, the England and Wales Cricket Board has a contingency to call a board meeting within 48 hours to determine its next move - dependent too on a Cricket Discipline Commission, which can take place only once the police investigation is concluded.

That all left Woakes speaking, as England have on this topic for much of the past two months, largely about conjecture.

Asked if Joe Root’s squad will welcome Stokes back should he become available, Woakes said: “Of course they would. Ben’s a world-class all-rounder, and makes any team better.

“The fact he’s out there playing cricket (means) he’s a little bit closer to Australia.”

The third Test in Perth, in mid-December, is the earliest feasible starting point.

“If he was to join the squad, that would be great for us,” added Woakes. “But at the minute, he’s not – so we have to get on without him.”

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