JONNY BAIRSTOW believes he was “stitched up” by Australia over his ‘headbutt’ greeting for Cameron Bancroft - which he describes simply as a case of “boys being boys”.
Bairstow found himself in the Ashes headlines for the wrong reasons when Bancroft told his team, and then the world, of the moment the Yorkshireman chose the unusual method to introduce himself in a Perth bar six weeks ago.
Providing his full version of the incident for the first time, the England wicketkeeper also warned Australia that if their ‘sledging’ tactics overstep the mark again – as some reports claim they did in Brisbane – he will take the matter further.
England have returned to Perth for the third Test, already 2-0 down with three to play, two weeks on from Australia’s decision to remind Bairstow of his social faux pas while he was batting in the series opener at the Gabba.
Bancroft then conducted a comedic press conference, relating his side of the story, after the chat had been picked up by broadcasters on the stump mic.
Bairstow insists he was never concerned, however, and neither were England - even though team management imposed a tour curfew of midnight in response.
Writing in a national newspaper column, Bairstow said: “A headbutt, to me, is something that has malicious intent. The reality is that it was nothing. (It was) boys being boys ... there was minimal contact, I can tell you that.
“Did I feel as if I had been stitched up? Yes I did in many ways. But at the same time, I honestly never thought of it as anything to worry about.
“I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong and, more importantly, the team and management knew that too. Australia, as they have admitted, were trying to use it to get under my skin.”
Some other things, apart from the ‘headbutt’ business, were said by Australia in the middle - but what they were is staying thereYorkshire and England’s Jonny Bairstow
Soon afterwards, Bairstow holed out at third-man as England lost the first Test by 10 wickets.
He added: “It did get to me a bit when they started sledging me, because I didn’t know what they were talking about.
“But I can honestly say the shot I got out to in the second innings had nothing to do with it. I (just) played a bad shot.”
There have been suggestions that Australia’s sledging has strayed into less jocular strains, and broadcast pundit Bob Willis said on air that some comments rumoured to have been directed at Bairstow were “personal”. He is not minded to make any complaint, however, as long as there is no repeat.
“Some other things, apart from the ‘headbutt’ business, were said by Australia in the middle - but what they were is staying there,” Bairstow added.
“We move on. I hope it’s gone now. I’m not making an issue of it. Only if they are said again would the matter go further. I’ve not lost any friendships over the last couple of weeks, put it like that.”