ANDREW STRAUSS insists there are no “thugs” among England’s Test cricketers and confirmed Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow will not face disciplinary action over the ‘headbutt’ incident at the start of the Ashes tour.
The subject of player behaviour is again making headlines after it emerged Bairstow greeted Cameron Bancroft with what the Australian opener described as a headbutt in a Perth bar on October 29.
It follows on from all-rounder Ben Stokes being made unavailable for the tour as he waits to discover if he will be charged after a late-night fracas in Bristol in September.
England and Wales Cricket Board director Strauss has spoken to Bairstow about the Perth incident, and while he will address the players again in Brisbane on Monday he is satisfied no disciplinary measures will be appropriate this time.
“These guys are not thugs,” he said. “These are good, honest, hard-working cricketers who sacrifice a lot to play for England. They have done some great things in an England shirt, and I will back them on that to the hilt - because I know them.
“The guys were out for a couple of drinks, there was no curfew in place (and) they were free to enjoy an evening out.”
Bairstow, however, does appear to have committed a faux pas.
“Jonny Bairstow mentioned to me that he ‘bumped’ Cameron Bancroft,” added Strauss. “It’s a greeting he does with his mates - and he assured me there was no malice, no intent, no aggression in what he did.
“Although I’m somewhat surprised he would choose to do such a thing, I’m taking him at his word. As such, I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to be launching disciplinary proceedings against him.
“I have clearly reminded him of his responsibilities as an England cricketer - and I think he has obviously seen first-hand how in an Ashes series, with a lot of noise and attention and interest, small issues can become bigger issues.”
He is shocked. He is surprised this has been made a big issue, but I think also he is quite contrite and realises what he thought was a bit of fun at the time can in the build-up to an Ashes series be construed as something completely different.ECB board director and former England captain, Andrew Strauss
Bancroft, who marked his debut with an unbeaten second-innings half-century as Australia coasted to victory, described Bairstow’s introductory gesture as “weird”.
Strauss added: “We have done a lot of work over the last five or six weeks, making sure the players understand their responsibilities and obligations and coming up with a code of conduct for them.
“I think we also need to understand and recognise that sport is moving on.
“What might have been acceptable in the old days is no longer acceptable, and we as an England cricket team ... need to move along with that.
“I think the players needs to be smarter. That’s the reality - they are adults, intelligent adults, and at times they are not using that intelligence in the right way.”
It has certainly been a sudden learning curve for England’s wicketkeeper.
“He is shocked,” said Strauss. “He is surprised this has been made a big issue, but I think also he is quite contrite and realises what he thought was a bit of fun at the time can in the build-up to an Ashes series be construed as something completely different.”