Let’s Pour Cold Water Over This Duckett Farce

If only Jimmy Anderson could duck it. Then we wouldn’t have to talk about Duckett.

I make no apologies for the awful joke. This whole tour is rapidly becoming a bad joke. And I’m not referring to the behaviour of the England players – which seems pretty much in line with behaviour on previous tours – I’m referring to the ridiculous overreaction of the ECB every time an England player farts too loudly.

We all know about the Ben Stokes situation. It was bad and everyone knows it. But since England arrived in Australia there have been no problems whatsoever – the Jonny Bairstow ‘incident’ barely qualified as an incident, and now Ben Duckett has been hung, drawn and quartered for an incident Trevor Bayliss described as ‘trivial’.

Just think about that for a second. Trevor Bayliss, who doesn’t exactly suffer fools lightly, calls a late night incident ‘fairly trivial’, yet the ECB responds by releasing this blunt and somewhat hysterical statement:

Following a disciplinary hearing with England Lions player Ben Duckett, ECB can confirm the following measures have been placed on the player.
– Fined the maximum allowable amount for an England Lions player.
– Suspended from playing for the rest of the current Lions Australian training camp.
– Issued with a final written warning in respect of his conduct as an England player. 
Duckett will remain with the England Lions party in Australia and will return to England at the end of the camp on 17 December.
The ECB will not make any further comment.

Given this no-nonsense reaction, no doubt plenty of people will impulsively give Duckett a good kicking. “These bloody entitled prima donnas, they get paid a fortune, have the privilege of playing sport for their country, and yet they disgrace the nation every time … feed them to Ramsey Bolton’s dogs!”. But before you condemn him, and praise Strauss’s draconian approach, please consider the following …

For starters lets look at the facts. There was no police involvement, the bar staff saw nothing to concern them, and it was after midnight in late night bar. Just about everyone agrees with Bayliss that the incident was trivial – even the usual sources that routinely defend the ECB – yet Duckett has been publically fined and suspended all the same because of ‘the current climate’.

Well I’m sorry for bursting anyone’s bubble, but who exactly is to blame for creating (or at the very least exacerbating) the current climate? You guessed it, it’s Andrew Strauss and the ECB for overreacting every time an England player’s behaviour deviates from standards even nuns in The Sound of Music would struggle to sustain. And in the process, Strauss has become England’s very own Captain Von Trapp: cold, humourless, and completely lacking in empathy.

The truth is that nobody has done more to perpetuate the myth that the current England team are incontrollable rogues than Andrew Von Trapp. He’s been played by the Aussie media good and proper. When it comes to ‘team culture’ and implementing a ‘one-size-fits all’ philosophy that punishes anyone that isn’t a goodie two-shoes, nobody does it better than the head boy himself.

Apologies for this attack on our much loved Director, but the way he’s handling these disciplinary issues is really winding me up. When news of Jonny Bairstow’s ‘head butt’ broke, England should have laughed it off as a non-story and emphasised that the squad – which contains a number of mild mannered characters like Moeen Ali, Alastair Cook and Chris Woakes – are generally a harmless lot. Instead he poured fuel on the fire by publically warning the England players about their behaviour and thus gave the Aussie press more ammunition. They must have been rolling in the aisles over at the Brisbane Courier Mail. I bet they couldn’t believe Strauss’s naivety.

And now Strauss has made exactly the same mistake with Duckett. Instead of having a quiet word, making him shake hands with Anderson, and perhaps giving him a private warning, the ECB have reacted like he’s punched an old woman in the face or called The Pope a tosser. What’s more, The Times, is reporting that many players were involved in the drink throwing (not just Duckett) and it was all good natured fun rather than something more sinister like an argument or public confrontation.

I’ve heard people argue that Strauss and / or Andy Flower acted quickly to pre-empt the media but I simply can’t agree. I mean, what exactly is the story here? ‘Fringe England player (that nobody in Australia has ever heard of) pours drink over mate at 1am’. It’s hardly a headline writer’s dream, is it?! I’ve spoken to a few ex-players about parties and late nights out on England tours and this Duckett story is completely innocuous by comparison.

Unfortunately, by reacting the way he has Strauss has made the incident seem a lot worse. Plus he’s also set a precedent that he’ll probably struggle to maintain. What’s he going to do next time a senior test player is accused of swearing or something quite common? He’ll be obliged to feed him to the dogs too – no matter whether the so called incident is exaggerated or even completely made up by some Australian shit-stirrer.

Every time England make a big deal of an incident the Australian press are going to make an even bigger deal out of it. Andrew Strauss is a man of many qualities, but I doubt he’ll be hired by a PR agency any time soon. He’s made a rod for his own back now (an iron rod?) and he’s set unrealistic standards that I doubt any group of young men (who are, let’s not forget, away from home for 3 months and under the most extreme pressure) could live up to.

The thing that really frustrates me, however, is that these so called disciplinary issues are completely distracting attention away from the real reasons England are getting hammered: the ECB’s preoccupation with white ball cricket and setting up the new city-based franchise plan, the neglection of the county championship, poor selection, a complete lack of succession planning, and a four-year cycle that’s been completely and utterly botched. The media should be taking about these key issues that will affect the future of English cricket for years to come – not some non-story that everyone (including ‘the ‘victim’) will have forgotten next week.

Before this tour began, many of us speculated as to who the scapegoat would be if England got thrashed again. With Kevin Pietersen no longer around, we wondered if the coach, the selectors, or another unfortunate player might be blamed this time. After all, the ECB would need someone to deflect attention away from the abysmal way they’ve managed our sport.

Unfortunately I sense we’re now getting our answer. The press and the management aren’t going to blame someone; they’re going to blame something. Poor discipline. And you can bet that these disciplinary problems aren’t going to be their fault either. They’ll be attributed to social factors or the inability of young people to handle fame and fortune – even though England’s cricketers aren’t footballers, most of them aren’t millionaires (the average county wage is pretty modest), and they’re not particularly famous because cricket isn’t on TV anymore.

In fact, the cynics out there probably think the ECB are exaggerating these disciplinary issues quite deliberately because they can see the writing on the wall, fully anticipate another 0-5 whitewash, and are getting their post-tour excuses in early.  Perhaps Strauss isn’t as useless at PR as we all though?

James Morgan


  • I agree that Strauss has overreacted. But why would he be worried about the Australian media more than the English press? If he’s getting his excuses in early, it’s the English press that will need to be gaslighted.

  • All very well and I agree the ECB has overreacted here, but why can’t they just go out and have a drink without bashing their head playfully into someone’s face, or chucking their drinks about, or whatever? They’re not teenagers and need to grow up and learn some self-control. Also, they shouldn’t be out until 1am. If you’re out on the lash at that time, you’re not fit for much until the day after next. I speak from extensive experience…

    • Agree with all that but……..if the Times report is right then Strauss et al have singled Duckett out to be a scapegoat. If this is the case, and The Times can back it up, I can see no course other than for Strauss to resign. In business, if a CEO did this they would be kicked out quicker than an Aussie can down a pint.

  • Well said. The whole thing is bordering on the farcical and drawing attention away from the failings in red ball (proper) cricket.
    Should we be surprised. On his appointment Strauss said success would be winning a 50 over tournament. He failed with the ICC Trophy – the World Cup will be much harder. He appointed Bayliss a noted white ball coach expecting Test Cricket to take care of itself.
    Well Andrew it won’t and if your employers continue to denigrate and ignore First Class cricket things can only get worse. There is much more to cricket than T20 and don’t get me started on free to air TV.
    These people know the price of everything and the value of nothing

  • Thought it was interesting that Moin was our unofficial Captain Sensible, appealing for players to be more responsible off the field. If only they could be more responsible on it. Sportsmen are traditionally on the laddish side, so one expects are certain amount of high jinx, but you sense that Mr Bayliss isn’t far away from blowing his top in public.

  • Admittedly, Strauss and the ECB have not handled the incidents very well, but would it be too much to ask for the players to act like adults and not like fratboys? According to reports, the team’s security officers who had accompanied the players had been told to report any poor behaviour to team management, so they were just doing their job. Not to mention that this was the first night on which the curfew was relaxed and they already have started a punch up. Do these people have no self discipline? Punching a guy’s eyesocket, heatbutting an opponent and pouring beer on another guy’s head aren’t exactly edifying scenes. The incident with Bairstow wasn’t even well known until the aussies needled him about it and made him lose concentration, so that’s not the ECB’s fault (I can’t believe I am defending the ECB here)

    • I don’t know how accurate those reports are but I don’t think it IS security’s job to snitch. It’s effectively management spying on the players. I agree that they could behave better but, if security were asked to snitch, and then the ECB got all nuts it just affirms the points James’ article makes. It’s a joke. And a bad one.

  • I take it you’ve seen the report in the Times that reveals that multiple England players were throwing drinks over one another in a spirit of silliness rather than anger, but only Duckett has been named to the press or punished in any way.

    I wonder who he annoyed to end up being made the next sacrificial lamb. He must have coughed during one of Andy Flower’s team talks or something.

    • Is there a thing in England where you go out and “throw drinks over one another in a spirit of silliness”?

      Is it like in that scene in Zoolander where they spray petrol on each after getting Orange Mocha Frappucinos?

      Maybe it’s in their with the customary headbutt greeting?

      Clearly things have changed in England.

      • At 1am and after 10 pints, people do all sorts of stupid shit.

        I’m not in any way suggesting Duckett was innocent. But when you have a 23 year old kid and a 35 year old senior player getting into trouble in a bar at 1am whilst supposedly on a professional cricket tour, I know who I’d be pointing the finger at.

      • Sounds like a ripping good time those team England boys have first its headbutts all round, then they throw drinks over each other. Not sure how they get drunk enough to have a brawl at the end of the night if they aren’t actually consuming any….

        Anyway to be serious I can’t decide whether this is a hyperbolic over-reaction as James makes out, or if it was an angry drink in the face from perhaps banter gone wrong which is being played down. Personally the later seems more consistent with the remaining part of the story (ie pulled out by security and the punishment).

    • Exactly AB. Duckett was one of several players involved and there was no row. Just good natured (albeit a bit childish) fun. I can’t believe this is newsworthy in the slightest.

      • Well you may be a judge of cricket but not of a news story. Believe me any news editor would pounce on it.

  • Ring of truth here – “In fact, the cynics out there probably think the ECB are exaggerating these disciplinary issues quite deliberately because they can see the writing on the wall, fully anticipate another 0-5 whitewash, and are getting their post-tour excuses in early. Perhaps Strauss isn’t as useless at PR as we all though?”
    Protect all those hugely overpaid and unnecessary ECB non-jobs at all costs.

  • Can’t agree with you. If it happened next to you in a bar would you think it’s trivial? Don’t try it in Durham by the way. Bayliss also said it was “unacceptable”. Why cherry pick his comments? The discipline came from Andy Flower who is in charge of the Lions. He has never deviated from that kind of response. He sent Stokes back from a Lions tour because of drunken behaviour. Flintoff was drunk on the 2006-7 Tour and led the team badly as captain. He was finally demoted after the pedalo incident. We were white-washed then. Stokes has sabotaged this Tour because of drunken behaviour and so it goes on. Indulgence is the worst response.

    • Apparently they weren’t next to any innocents. They were in a group, by themselves, and the bar staff saw no cause for concern. I’ve seen far worse behaviour in London bars (especially on stag parties) and they weren’t hurting anyone.

      It’s interesting that you bring up Flintoff. Did you see his documentaries about depression, and just how hard it is when you’re miles away from home, under huge pressure, and the tour is going wrong? Players need to let their hair down now and again. If many England players were involved in this (as it says in The Times) then what good is Flower actually doing? He’s just making them tense up even more, and add more pressure.

      But I knew people would ignore the nuances in all this, just see a ‘sports stars drunk again’ headline, and overreact themselves.

      • I suspect some folks won’t be happy until we field a new model puritans eleven.

        Keith Miller and Denis Compton would not be impressed…

      • Flintoff was an alcoholic which is why he has given up drinking completely. That kind of drinking is not about “letting your hair down”. It’s about addiction and it’s miserable. I think you’ll find that alcoholism and depression go hand in hand. I know nothing about Duckett but he may be singled out because he has a whole string of previous offences? I’m not a Flower advocate at all, far from it. But throwing pints of beer over colleagues is really not excusable because it’s in a group! If the bar staff did nothing then they weren’t doing their job. As for stag parties you are setting the bar rather high as a comparison. Yes hard to compete with those but they aren’t playing cricket internationally and representing their country. And it isn’t even faintly amusing. Students behave in a similar manner and they get hauled over the coals for it. Believe it or not you can actually get sick of that kind of behaviour night after night in the local bars. Their excuse is that they are 19 and 20. But throwing beer around in a pub? You would be out on the street. And the tour is going wrong? Are the Lions as bad as England?

        • You’re completely discounting what type of pub / bar it is and what the context of the evening was. Check out the Avenue, Perth’s Facebook page. It’s a party venue / club where I imagine this kind of behaviour is a minor issue. It’s not a civilised family local boozer. It looks more like a Club 18-30 affair.

          My point about Flintoff is that players need to let their hair down now and again, and get away from the pressure they’re under. 3 months away from home is a long time. Give the guys a break!

      • I’m ex military James and I’ve spent many many months not only away from home but living out a bag, on rations and crapping in a bag.. these guys get mega bucks, free medical and health care, free kit, free food.. don’t even start talking about ‘pressure’ and how hard they have it.

        What you mean is they are pampered beyond belief now

      • These guys are under no greater pressure than on previous tours, so why are we hearing about this kind of shit now. Tabloids have been digging away for decades.
        All the players know they are representing their employers all the time they are in public.
        How can we expect guys with this childish mentality to knuckle down like men and be counted when it matters?

      • Wait a minute James. These poor stressed out sportsmen actively seek out selection for these tours. They all know they will be away from home for months. They all know there will be times when things are going wrong. They all know they will be thrown on their own resources to sort this. They all know the eyes of the press will be on them, many only concerned with raking up off field controversy. All this has been going on for decades, yet the players stil relish the prospect.
        When failure looms, Depression has become the fashionable ‘disease’ of the 21st century. I am not belittling those who are genuine sufferers, but clinical depression makes people totally disfunctional. Letting their hair down is no way to avoid this. All the pressures that were there before will still be there afterwards.
        Those high profile junkies, including the likes of Flintoff, with his extensive involvement in all sorts of non cricketing roles, are not and never have been clinically depressed. Trott and Trescothic clearly had issues, but were apparently able to continue with county cricket soon afterwards and there was no evidence their private lives were falling apart, which would happen with clinical depression.
        Obviously there are people who cope with pressure better than others and in the present media obsessed age clearly this is intensified, but if you actively seek out success at the top in any walk of life you have to expect and learn to cope with the pressures which you know are going to be a constant factor in your life. If you can’t you’re not necessarily going to be clinically depressed as a result.

  • If I go away on business, I might go for a few pints with colleagues, but I’m going to be back at the hotel by 10pm to skype the missus, not going a bar until 1am getting pissed up and getting into drunken arguments that could easily turn into fights. That’s just unprofessional. Its a professional cricket tour, not a fucking 18-30 holiday.

    The England Cricket Team do have a major attitude problem. Anyone who has watched cricket in the past decade will confirm that they’re dickheads on the field, its becoming increasingly apparent that they’re dickheads off the field, too.

    Surely it should be the responsibility of senior players (Root, Cook, Anderson, Broad, basically all the over-30s) to set the tone within the team. WTF was 35 year old James Anderson doing in a bar at 1am?

    • I’m not sure the England squad as a whole has much of an attitude problem. Most of them are mild mannered lads. There used to be a problem (urinating over The Oval outfield etc) but that was a long time ago and the main culprits have long since moved on.

      • I don’t think many of our current senior players seem to set a particularly good example. Maybe its a hangover from that era, maybe its a coincidence and its just the way they are, but they often come across as surly, selfish, petulant, and immature, with hair-trigger tempers, and incidents off the pitch seem to bear this out.

        It can’t be a very welcoming dressing room to come into as a new player.

        TBH I don’t think this is going to improve, and neither will the team results, until we have something of a spring clean and gently show several senior players the door with a warm round of applause, and start again with a new attitude.

      • Yes you’re right.. all that ‘banter’ broad, Anderson and co give on the field is ‘mild mannored’. I don’t usually agree with AB but as he says.. grow up, you’re paid a lot, you’re on a work trip.. act professional.

        These are just excuses being made up because they happen to be cricketers.. if they can’t act properly then kick them out the game. Plenty more where they came from

    • “WTF was 35 year old James Anderson doing in a bar at 1am?”

      Having a beer and enjoying himself I hope.

      I can only think some of the sanctimonious posturing is deliberately over the top. If you are shocked by a 35 year old being in a bar at 1am then your monastery must be a particularly dull one.

      • Piss off. Its a professional cricket tour, not a piss up with the lads. From the moment you step on the plane to the moment you get home, you’re there representing your country, so fucking act like it. Professional cricketers are not out drinking until the small hours of the morning. How many beers do you need to “let your hair down”? 2? 5? 15?

        I could let off a 23 year old kid who doesn’t really know any better – I remember what I was like at that age, I’d have probably been out trying to pull an Aussie bird – but a 35 year old man with wife and kids, what the fuck is his excuse?

        • In what world does a 35 year old need an excuse to have a pint? Or an 18 year old, or a 23 year old, or a 57 year old!

          The professional part is training hard and playing well. After which a few beers is not only good for the soul but something I’d positively encourage. Particularly out and about rather than getting homesick stuck in a hotel.

          Sadly Jimmy cricket does not need your permission to go out and enjoy himself. Neither does every club in the country need your permission to sell naughty and deeply shocking alcoholic drinks after a match.

          Genuine question.. Have you ever actually played cricket? If you had you might have noticed a strange and deeply disturbing correlation between middle aged men sneaking into the bar after a match and insulting all common decency by consuming an alcoholic beverage.

          Sometimes… Brace yourself for this… Even with their children present! I know…

          I would say you are Mary Whitehouse and I claim my £5 however the truth of it is that she wouldn’t even raise her eyebrows and would probably approve!

          Tee hee.

          • What a bizarre strawman. You seem to be conflating having a couple of beers, with a late-night drinking session until the small hours.

            If you don’t know the difference, I suggest you contact a health professional as soon as you are able.

            I suspect you do know the difference, but choose to ignore it as you’re only here to troll, rather than engage in a sensible discussion.

            What a pointless prick you are.

          • There is a difference between drinking beer and throwing it over your colleagues. Duckett hasn’t been penalised for drinking but for being drunk and disorderly. It is a criminal offence actually. Lucky to get away with it. He could have been marched off to cool down in a jail overnight. It happens to quite a few who “let their hair down”.

            • No Duckett was not punished for being drunk and disorderly, and it was not a police issue. Lots of the players were doing it, and it was all in good fun. I’m not saying it wasn’t childish but it really wasn’t a big deal … until the ECB turned it into one. Read the article in The Times and the one by George Dobell.

        • AB – get off your high horse !

          These guys are away from home for a 3 month stretch and for that entire period they have to behave to your set of standards as a professional cricket team – ie 24/7 for a quarter of a year.

          And then when someone disagrees with you, you resort to calling them names. Yes, great debating technique you’re displaying there.

          I say live and let live, provided it’s not every night and it’s a scheduled rest day the next day….

          • I don’t think its actually really that onerous a requirement.

            Go out as much as you want, drink as much as you want, just make sure that any drinking from midnight onwards is in a hotel room and away from the prying eyes of the press, and please try not to punch anyone, headbutt anyone, throw drinks over anyone, or gods knows what else they’re going to do next.

            Is that really so much to ask?

            No idea who this “Mike Chaffin” (made-up name alert) is, but he comes in here blatantly trolling and throwing his weight around, doling out the insults right, left and centre, knocking down idiotic strrawmen of his own invention. First its this “Tom” character and now this trash. I don’t know which troll is worse. This Mike bloke is clearly an A1 bellend.

            • Not the first compliment my bellend has received, though the first from a bloke…

              Which is fine. Bit gutted that my reputation as a demon chinaman hasn’t spread further than various third division second XIs but happy for my extremities to be famous…

              • That is genuinely the creepiest post I have ever read on here.
                Do you engineer mentioning your genitals into all your public discussions?

            • You’re doing a reasonable job of name-calling yourself, champ. For example, stop calling anyone who disagrees a “troll”.

          • The problem is they’re doing this in public. They know exactly what the publicity will be like and what the reaction of their employers will be. It’s just bone-headed and reflects a sad lack of judgement that is duplicated on the field.
            There are other ways of enjoying yourself and winding down without getting liquored up, but we live in a drinking culture of ‘party animal’ lifestyle.
            If you can remember what you did the previous night it can’t have been much of a night.
            In previous era’s ‘misbehaviour’ was kept under wraps in the team hotel. In Truman’s biography ‘Ball of Fire’ he reflects that on tours of the West Indies, prostitutes were arranged for the team.

            • Botham said that in the end he created. “Bat cave” in his hotel room where they used to meet and drink thus avoiding the press and trouble. He said, in the end, he realised he could, ot continue going out and about as there was always somebody looking for trouble

  • Strauss intellect has never surpassed his unjustified gravitas and the danger as always in this sort of makeup is the ability to find fault in ones actions.

    They have hung Duckett out to dry so they might ingratiate themselves in front of potential future sponsors. It’s grubby, craven and at the expense of the players they are charged with managing and getting the best out of. But when Mammon has always been placed before all else at ECB towers, what should we expect?

  • I am sorry to disagree as I really respect this forum and most of the comments on it. I have to say, James, I think much of what has been written here is not defensible. Alcohol and elite sport just do not mix. Certainly these players are away from home quite a long time but they are in a very privileged position and they represent their country. They live by social media (or at least many them appear to) and they must understand the additional pressures that brings.

    If you do not get the fact that you are now being paid handsomely to play a sport and that you are a role model for youngsters, then there is something the matter with you. Young men and women a lot younger than almost anyone on this tour have endured far worse for remarkably little pay in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. These players need to grow up. In this context, I do not buy this “Anderson is innocent” mantra. He is the most senior player in terms of years and an icon. He has to set an example. He also ought to be doing his bit to control the few who do not get the message.

    I love cricket for many reasons – one of them is that it is tough but has a tendency and reputation for civilising those who play it. I am not sure that the management can win in the eyes of some people. And I am not sure what more they can do. Playing international sport (or indeed sport at any level) is about taking personal responsibility within a team setting. If you cannot take that responsibility off the field, there have to be questions about whether you can do so on the field. Of course, there is nothing new in this sort of behaviour but people have been dealt with sternly in the past, although one has to accept they weren’t so easily discovered. Everything is just much more discoverable now and players have to accept that along with the increased benefits they get.

    Is it really logical to suggest that the Board and management are making so much fuss because of poor performance on the field? Most of this started a long time ago and the instant trigger, Stokes, was well before the tour began. I do agree that Andrew Strauss has some answering to do here. His team and the immediate legacy behind had got a fairly unpleasant side to it that could be masked during better performances.

    The people I feel most sorry for in this are the majority of the touring party (and probably the Lions, too) who just want to get on, do their best and behave sensibly and enjoy themselves without making headlines for the wrong reasons. There would seem to be a handful of recidivists here. I hope Bayliss sticks by his word and just clears them out, whoever they are. Those of them who demonstrate over time that they are willing to rehabilitate themselves should be welcomed back with a clean slate but a watchful eye being cast. I would certainly take a period of difficult results (well, I suppose we are in one anyhow) to have a reshaped team without this sort of nonsense.

    John Arlott was once asked the perennial question as to whether any player is bigger than the game. To paraphrase his response, he said that the players are the game. I agree with that but with it comes a level of responsibility some of these selfish young men need to grasp.

    • Hi Mark. It looks like we just have different expectations of our players. I personally don’t care what they get up to in their own time; it’s what they do on the field that counts. And therefore I’d rather focus on that. What Stokes did was obviously very serious but this Duckett incident isn’t in the same league. Even the bar staff weren’t fussed.

      If you talk to ex pros they all talk about the importance of switching off and letting their hair down. That’s all that’s happening here. And I don’t begrudge them at all for having a few drinks. Someone shouldn’t be a prisoner, or enjoy less freedoms than anyone else, just because they’re a cricketer. Obviously they’re roll models to a certain extent but there were no kids present, and it wouldn’t even be public knowledge unless the ECB and media were making such a big deal about it.

      I’ve read plenty of sports autobiographies (rugby ones of players who played in the 90s particularly spring to mind) and throwing drinks is all par for the course … in fact it’s pretty mild. It’s not even dwarf tossing! What’s more, I don’t see what’s so ‘selfish’ about the players having fun when they’re in a group and aren’t harming anyone else.

      • And now the comparison is to rugby players, the worst of the lot! Even worse than stag parties. Oh dear. Cricket is a different game isn’t it? Are they singing those 20 verses bawdy songs as well?

        • Why should the England cricket team have to behave with better manners than the rugby team or people from other sports? Sounds like you’ve just got a problem with sportsmen in general letting their hair down.

      • What the players get up to off the field reflects their mentality on it. You can’t separate the 2. They’re getting a pasting on the field and need to reflect that in public by seeming as though they give a damn. Prat about in the privacy of the hotel.
        Why does letting your hair down always require getting liquored up. There’s precious little to celebrate and alcohol is a depressant, which isn’t going to make them feel better about their predicament.
        Partying isn’t a cure for all ills, in fact it isn’t a cure for anything, it’s just a cop out.
        It’s inappropriate behaviour in a public place and anyone who doesn’t see that is part of the problem.

      • How far do you take your mantra of ‘I don’t care what they get up to in their spare time?
        There are many things you can do off the field which will have a direct effect on your ability to perform on it. How do you differentiate between these? Where do you set the limits? Do you just leave it to the individuals to set their own limits?
        It’s a really dangerous generalisation to make about professional athletes, who are mostly young people, not renowned for excercising much self control.

    • “Young men and women a lot younger than almost anyone on this tour have endured far worse for remarkably little pay in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.”

      Been there done that and can assure you a drink or three would have helped. If you think squaddies are angels past 1am then… We clearly live on different planets.

      Not convinced I’m too impressed with someone bringing up a tour of duty as a saintly analogy to a cricket tour. Each to their own though.

      • Sure, I understand that. All I was trying to do was show the two things were very different and that there is privilege on the one hand and there are young men and women who really do understand the hardship in being away from home and in their case often facing danger. No disrespect to those who have served intended – rather the opposite. I’m sorry if I struck a bum chord here.

        • You didn’t. You’re right, one is very well paid with all the trappings and yet we have to feel sorry for them. The other isn’t well paid and you can see mates injured or killed and be away for months without the army paying for family to fly over and stay etc ..

          Sure, they can do what they want but emember you’re there on a Work trip, representing your nation and you’re being well paid for it.. if you don’t like it, foxtrot Oscar to the IPL

      • We weren’t representing our country in a very well paid role where everything is done for you !

        Very different

    • Not sure that miserable puritanism is entirely conducive to elite performance under pressure, either.

      • Could you explain how objecting to drunks throwing beer over each other is “miserable puritanism”? Famous or not, cricketers or not, I wouldn’t like to be in the same bar or pub with that going on. Maybe I’m enjoying a drink with a friend or two but can tell the difference between good company and bad. If someone threw a drink over me that would you call it miserable puritanism if I objected?

        • If you were a venue like the Avenue in Perth, and you were with a group of other people throwing the odd drink over each other, you’d probably expect to get wet, right?

          You’re not placing the incident in context. It’s like you’ve singled out Duckett and then pictured the incident happening mid-afternoon at the Ritz when everyone is drinking Earl Grey tea.

  • After the way Strauss & Flower stitched up KP on the last Ashes tour, why would anyone be surprised by their complete incompetence?

  • The Aussies press are their 12th man, or were. It seems as though Strauss is determined to wrestle that honour from them.

    England player farts at 1am after fart embargo lifted. KP insists it was likely Cook, who once said mean things about him 4 years ago, who probably farted…

    I mean really? Could we even things up by getting the Aussie equivalent to ask Steven Smith to have a word with the Barmy Army about their behaviour during a test match? I thay you wotters, your conduct is weprehenthible and wong.

    At least that would make good TV.

    Whether we have pious choirboys or drunken louts on tour doesn’t interest me one bit as long as they get runs and wickets. Does the bald boring git really think his approach is the only one that works?

    With the vast majority of the country unable to watch the cricket reacting to taunts and sledging in the middle by the administrators is beneath contempt. Totally mismanaged, clueless and counter productive. Time was when our journalists would more than turn a blind eye to any antics off the field, they probably would have done so again but for the management making it a story. Meanwhile, we’re talking about it rather than the cricket!

    How have we managed to take two squads to Australia with only one specialist off spinner between them? That is I assume Amir Virdi doesn’t have pretensions at being an all rounder.. Warner’s weakness is spin and the convicts are sprouting almost as many left handers as we are.

    Livingstone and Bess look very interesting, the former a destructive No 3 and decent offie and the latter a bit young but looks like a very good offie who can bat. With Lyon’s wickets the difference between the sides I’m convinced we have to play two spinners. If Anderson and Broad can’t do the job then your third and fourth seamers certainly won’t whether they have a modicum of pace or not.

    Also we need more runs so I’d give Livingstone a debut at number 3 with licence to take Lyon downtown and Crane in for the promising Overton.

    Is Ali worth his place without his offspin? The purist in me screams yes though I think he’s batting too high and seems to have a problem with Lyon when you’d hope the opposite was true. Saying that getting out to a medium pacer in the tour match wasn’t a great result and I’m a little unimpressed by him saying that young players will be put off cricket by some bar tittle tattle. If you’re at number 6 and it looks like you’re batting too high then it has to put your place as a batsman under question though I can’t see anyone who could replace him.

    • What journalists are those? You live in cloud cuckoo land. They’re doing their job. It’s news. And it’s a story.

      • As an example the ever awful Henderson bragged in one of his articles about not writing a piece about one of the England players getting drunk and ( I think, can’t remember the details) doing a striptease on a table in South Africa.

        Course he was writing about it, and betraying the trust of allowing the hacks to accompany the team on a night out. He made out that antics were often unreported no matter how many hacks were present.

        The problem here isn’t the hacks, it’s de management making the story with some curious virtue signalling.

    • It’s not the Australian press driving this. It’s Strauss and he’d more likely have his eye on the English press than the Australian press. If, as James suggests, he’s setting up a narrative about poor discipline in anticipation of a defeat, that’s for the purposes of the English press, who will be looking for a narrative to explain the result. That’s got nothing to do with the Australian press, who will be happy enough to cover their own team.

    • In the past many stories went unreported because only the cricket press were around when they happened and cricket journo’s are either ex-colleagues of the players or know there future material depends on getting on with those players. Today, if something happens, it will either be picked up by the wider journo community or will appear on social media and go viral. We may not like the change to everything being under a microscope but it is too late to close Pandora’s box.

      • This is what is wrong with The media. All the media are just too close to the ecb and players. It came out post stokes (Vaughan/someone on tv) said that actually these types of incidents are common but have been suppressed (aka not reported).

        The media is there to tell us this stuff not hide it to cover their own backsides.. hence why we can’t believe what anyone close to the players actually says sadly

  • Well, having a previous life of being a Pom living in Oz for 30 years, there are TWO things that is ingrained in their culture:

    1. Knock their own tall poppies
    2. Pommie bashing

    So, what nobody has grasped is that Bayliss is also under immense pressure, because as an Aussie, in charge of the enemy in his own back yard is tantamount to treason. So if he looks ready to explode in public, then I’m not surprised. England tours seem to get into more trouble in Australia than in any other country. Maybe our players have a superiority complex about them, I don’t know, but something always seems to kick off.

    Whatever happens with the players, you can rest assured that the Australian media will be scouring for opportunities to slag off their bloke, England’s coach!

    Maybe it’s the nature of the beast, but the Australian media appear to be more “professional” when reporting these incidents. When James Faulkner was found guilty of drink driving in England, it was barely covered here, yet the Aussies gave him a right old caning for it. Tall poppies you see, daring to play in England. pfft

    You would expect incidents such as the Bairstow and Duckett ones, would have been dealt with behind closed doors, but no, as you say, Strauss has to go and be a fucking big “I am” and release a press statement!

    Only the Stokes one is more understandable (for discussion in the media), because the police are involved.

    Once again, the ECB is in danger over imploding because it has over reacted.


    • “So, what nobody has grasped is that Bayliss is also under immense pressure, because as an Aussie, in charge of the enemy in his own back yard is tantamount to treason.”

      Good point. Bayliss wants his squad to get on and be relaxed so they can play good cricket. Which are laudable aims entirely undermined by Strauss. I’d be angry too, though not at the players for enjoying themselves in whatever manner they see fit.

      Best thing that could happen is if he took the bald git behind the stands and briefed him up

      • “Best thing that could happen is if he took the bald git behind the stands and briefed him up”

        Is that what you do to people who disagree with you?

    • I don’t think anyone has taken undue shots at Bayliss.

      And we return again to this flawed notion that this is all being driven by the Australian press, as though the English press aren’t covering it at all. Australians like to take the piss out of the English but it’s the Poms doing the hand-wringing about “team culture”. Read Michael Vaughan’s comments.

  • There seem to be two questions arising from this debacle;
    1. What actually happened? Was Duckett only one of several throwing drinks or, alternatively, was he so provoked by Anderson that he reacted? If either of these are the case then Strauss must go. It is one thing to enforce discipline. It is another thing to single out the most junior member and hang him out to dry in public.
    2. Given that there seems to be a clique of players with behavioural issues how do we move forward. I would be loathe to see the likes of Bairstow and Anderson dropped but something needs to be done. One problem is that Root has no credibility as a captain when it comes to enforcing off field discipline given his own record. I do believe a new captain is needed (for both on and off field reasons) and can see only two possibilities who have both a secure team position and a snow white reputation – Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes. As a Brummie I would favour Woakes since he also has a captaincy track record, but Moeen would be fine.

    And for those wondering why we need a heavy hand on discipline – we don’t. We just need management with credibility. By repute one of the happiest and most trouble free Ashes tours ever was when Mike Smith captained, with his laid back approach (and tendency to leave a baby Neil Smith to be looked after by a tail ender whilst he went in to bat).

    • All this nonsense about whether or not to have a curfew.

      If the curfew is before, say, 11pm, then its unnecessarily draconian and likely to be counter-productive.

      If the curfew is after midnight, then it should be completely unnecessary, because there should be absolutely no way in hell that a professional cricketer would even countenance being out in a bar or nightclub until the early hours of the morning whilst on tour representing his country. Senior players need to be showing an example to the younger squad members on this. A few pints, a meal, maybe a night-cap in the hotel bar and then back to the hotel room for a game of FIFA.

      The very fact that a curfew is having being discussed shows you what a rotten bunch of senior players we have.

      • Agreed. I have thought of another solution. Is there a modern version of Popeye Willey, who could bench press over 300lbs and, in the 80s, was the enforcer who told Ian Botham to behave or he would be removing his bat from his rear end?

        • I think the problem we have is that its not just one individual, its the whole team culture that has been allowed to fester for the best part of a decade now. Our “senior” players are the worst offenders and often appear interested purely in pursuing their own records, with little thought given to providing leadership to the rest of the group. Off-field discipline issues are just one symptom of a thoroughly rotten group dynamic.

  • Agree you need to let your hair down in sport and the ECB are nothing short if imbecelic. Unfortunately though we are now in the digital age with everything going viral in about 60 seconds. Players just need to use their brain if they have one. With the Stokes thing hanging over the tour before it started you have got to be a bit streaky clean. How daft is actually going into the SAME bar as the Bairstow incident? Please.
    They are playing right into the Aussie trap. They’ve only be doing it since 1882 so you’d think we wouldn’t keep taking the bait. Concentrate on the cricket, let that do the talking. A bit of agro on the pitch never hurt anyone. Keep it there.

    • What is the “Aussie trap”?

      You guys really have a complex about it, don’t you?

      It’s the English press that’s claiming to be scandalised by the team’s behaviour. Australians will be happy enough kicking your arses.

  • George Dobell, pointing out in passing that England number at least four tea totallers in their team, puts it well:
    If England really want to improve in Test cricket, they will look at the marginalisation of the county championship programme, the departure from technical coaching throughout the game, and the reliance upon English conditions in home Tests that has provided an illusion that all is well. These subjects may not make for catchy headlines or simple narratives, but if England want to improve their cricket, it’s those factors they’ll need to look at, not what time their players go to bed…

    And whatever ones personal prejudices about late night drinking, what is not at issue is that England management have, as so often, mishandled the incident.

      • Nah. It’s all part of the fun. I enjoy seeing how many times people misspell Gary Ballance’s name! :-)

    • To quote Mr Dobel..

      “Really, we’re only days from the headline: “England player fails to use coaster in bar”, accompanied by a po-faced interview in which a former player suggests it reflects a lack of respect for Australian furniture and the downfall of British society.”

      And he isn’t wrong!

    • The problem with Dobell is that his argument isn’t logical. What time players go to bed could affect the short term issues around a particular tour or game of cricket. In the long term the marginalisation of the county championship programme is a serious blow to the development of good cricketers and the quality of the game. They are different and separate.

      • Not sure you’ve got the full facts here. It was a no curfew night so the players were allowed to be out late.

        • Yes James but as I said earlier its not the 70’s anymore and throwing beer over whoever is not what supposed professional sportsmen should’ve doing at 1am. I wouldn’t behave like a prat and neither should they. Like it or not times have changed, probably for the worst, but there you are.
          However I agree entirely that a Lion’s player shouldn’t be hung out to dry by the moronic ECB to enable them to save face. Try and help them rather than hit them with over the top penalties.

  • I can’t help feeling that some of our cricketers are behaving more likely footballers and I hate bloody football.
    Duckett has got off lightly – in most of the pubs that I used to frequent he (and anyone else throwing booze around) would have been thrown out and told never to return. And got his arse kicked as well.

    • In which case I assume you would agree that all the other players who were throwing drinks should also be suspended and fined (at minimum)?

    • Never seen him bowl myself, but I’m intrigued. Kuldeep generally doesn’t bowl in tests, for now it’s going to be Jadeja & Ashwin handling the spin duties. I do wish Kohli takes a short term contract at one of the English counties to get used to playing in England before we head there next time…

      • He’s a quickish leggie. Even broke a stump a while back. It was probably a faulty stump but still a spinner who can smash a stump is pretty awesome.

        Not that this in itself makes him a good bowler. He really is though as has many years of playing ahead of him.

        I don’t rate Kuldeep as being exceptional, very good yes. He is however the best chinaman I’ve seen and I’m hopelessly biassed. :)

  • I suspect were roles reversed and it was Anderson dumping the drink, there would not be a kicking off the tour. I don’t think Ben Stokes has actually been fined by the ECB? It’s just another shambolic ECB crisis management operation in full swing, this is all entirely their own making for making Stokes selection situation clear as mud

    They are so reactive with their decision making, they don’t make strong decisions, they hope it goes away then react to any further incidents depending on what way the wind is blowing, I think I commented back in September when Stokes incident occured, asking what would happen when a lesser light does something – well now we know, and this is the standard going forward as well.

  • I suppose there is one positive apect of this affair. Duckett has at least shown that he has the stomach for the fight and done so by offending the most objectionable personality in world cricket (and I leave each of you to decide whether I am referring to Anderson or Strauss at this point :) )

  • I’m not sure I can agree with this.
    1) how does a young fringe player think it’s acceptable to pour a pint over an England legend
    2) why is the senior England legend not even in the bar at that time? As a senior player surely he should have set an example and left at a reasonable time
    3) which idiot thought it would be a good idea to go to the same bar that the Headbut incident occurred?
    4) this was the first night that the curfew was lifted. A curfew that the management did not want to impose

    At the end of the day, none of the incidents are even a story had Ben Stokes not got bladdered at stupid o’clock during a ODI series and banged someone out in full view of CCTV. That boy got a lot to answer for

  • I don’t think ANY England player should be out in a bar at 1am during an Ashes tour. They are meant to be bloody professional athletes.


    It’s obvious what is happening here. The scapegoats are being lined up.

    No way would James Anderson have been suspended from the Perth Test if he’d dumped beer over Duckett. But Duckett is disposable, by dint of being a bit crap. Blame it all on him, and a couple of other troublemakers, and we can ignore the crap coaching, awful selection, suicidal treatment of first class cricket and colossal waste of money that Loughborough has turned out to be. Not to mention the failure of Saints Cook and Anderson (wait for it), the non-job that Comma does, and the fact that player development is being looked after by Andy Flower, which is a bit like asking Dracula to run the NHS blood donation scheme.

    IT’s how the ECB does things, aided by the press, of course. Jonny Bairstow better hit some runs on this tour, or he’s at serious risk of copping the blame, it seems.


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