November 27, 2017
Jonny Bairstow, the England wicketkeeper, has escaped disciplinary action after a “headbutt” on Australian opener Cameron Bancroft in a Perth bar last month.
Following Australia’s 10-wicket first Test victory, Bairstow downplayed the incident and has been backed by an under-pressure ECB in the aftermath of star allrounder Ben Stokes’ provisional suspension following a recent brawl in Bristol.
“First of all, I think it’s blown completely out of proportion,” Bairstow told reporters on Monday (November 27). “That evening we were let out, there wasn’t any curfew. I was out with friends and some of the WA (Western Australia) guys.
“We were in the bar having a laugh and an enjoyable night,” he added. “Cameron and I enjoyed the evening and continued to (enjoy it). There was no malice or intent.”
Australian players on day four were heard on stump microphones sledging Bairstow about the incident but Trevor Bayliss, England’s coach, denied relations between the teams had been soured.
“Certainly not,” Bayliss said. “We just want to get on with the cricket. When they come up later on, they give ammunition for the opposition team to put pressure on.”
Bayliss disputed reports that Bairstow had headbutted Bancroft. “I think there was some contact, but it was not a headbutt,” he said. “There’s a big difference.”
Speaking to the media after finishing 82 not out and guiding Australia to the 170-run victory target, Bancroft said he had received a headbutt to the forehead from Bairstow but downplayed the severity of it. “He greeted me with a headbutt,” Bancroft said. “I was expecting a handshake, it wasn’t the greeting of choice I was expecting. There was certainly no malice in his action and we continued on having a good conversation the rest of the evening.
“At the time he said sorry. For me personally, it was just really weird,” he added. “It was so random and I didn’t expect it coming. A handshake or hug I would have expected instead of a headbutt. I let it go and moved on from it.”
Steve Smith, the Australian captain, refused to get drawn into whether Bairstow should have received punishment after parallels were made with David Warner’s two-Test suspension for an altercation with Joe Root in an English pub four years ago.
“That’s not my decision,” Smith said. “That’s none of our business, we will just go about our business as usual.”
Smith said the team used the incident to knock Bairstow off his game. “It was basically about putting Jonny off his game,” he said. “I think it worked with the way he got out. We were just trying to get into his head and it happened to work.”