The Jonny Bairstow stumping incident has been the talk of the cricketing world since it happened on Day Five of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s. The Yorkshire-born batsman was given out stumped by Alex Carey after he wandered out of his crease to talk to Ben Stokes, believing the ball to be dead.
Bairstow had scored 10 runs before he was stumped out, yet another average score for one of England’s key players. The incident caused a great deal of controversy, with many people believing that Australia captain Pat Cummins and Alex Carey acted outside the spirit of the game. England bowler Stuart Broad was heard saying “that’s the worst thing I’ve seen in cricket”, while captain Ben Stokes said he “wouldn’t want to win in that manner”. Even Prime Minister Rishi Sunak came out to say that Carey’s actions were “not in the spirit” of the game.
England fans have since made their opinions heard. As the Australia team exited the field through the long room, fans could be heard giving the players all sorts of stick. Former England captain Eoin Morgan said he had “never seen scenes like it” since starting out as a 16-year-old kid. He went on to say that he couldn’t understand the fans’ frustration and that it’s “complete naivety around Bairstow’s dismissal”.
Bairstow is a cricketer to be feared with a bat in his hand
Bairstow has since made a point of keeping his bat firmly on the ground before leaving his crease. To the delight of many England fans, Alex Carey miraculously dropped an almost certain catch on the final day of the third test that would’ve outed England’s main man, Ben Stokes. Carey has been under fire from the England fans ever since the Bairstow stumping, which is likely to continue through to the final day of the Ashes.
As for Bairstow, it’d be fair to say that he’s produced a rather average set of performances so far. Going into the fourth test, questions were asked as to whether he should remain England’s main wicketkeeper, given his poor form. But manager Brendon McCullum is adamant about the style of cricketer he wants, and Bairstow certainly fits the billing. An aggressor who isn’t afraid to give it a whack, Bairstow is a cricketer to be feared with a bat in his hand. Stokes and McCullum have backed Bairstow for the rest of the series, believing in him wholeheartedly as a batsman and a wicketkeeper.
England won the third test by three wickets to give them a lifeline in the series. Australia had cruised through the first two tests which meant England had it all to do at Headingly, and that they did thanks to an incredible team effort. It’s still Australia’s to lose, but Ben Stokes and his team have it all to play for going into the fourth test at Old Trafford.
Much like the third test, England are in another must-win situation. Even a draw would be enough to see Australia snatch the series, so Stokes’ team must be at it from the get-go if they are to complete what would be one of cricket’s greatest-ever comebacks. To make things all the more difficult, we could see a shortened fourth test due to the weather. With the odds heavily stacked against his team, captain Ben Stokes said to BBC Sport: “If the weather does look like it’s going to have an effect on the time in the game, it probably suits us even more because we know what we need to do.”
Stokes will no doubt have a big role to play in England’s chances of making a historic comeback
When the stakes are as high as they are, England can only look forward and move on from what have been a lacklustre first two tests. As a general rule of thumb in team sports, you need your best players on the pitch when it goes down to the wire. England have the tools to do the job, with near enough all their key players available for selection. On-fire bowlers Mark Wood and Stuart Broad will need to keep the momentum going, while Stokes will no doubt have a big role to play in England’s chances of making a historic comeback.
If Bairstow can pick up a bit of form in this test, England could well be on their way to a decider at The Oval. Other than recalling James Anderson for Ollie Robinson, England have named the same team as the third test, going up to Old Trafford. McCullum and Stokes have put incredible faith into their team, and it is up to them to prove themselves in Manchester with the Ashes well and truly on the line.