Alex Carey has stood by his controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s which ignited the biggest uproar of the Ashes and led to what he termed some “pretty nasty stuff” being said about him and the team.
Speaking for the first time since the dismissal on the final day at Lord’s, Carey reinforced that Australia had noted Bairstow’s habit of quickly leaving his crease and had been a bit taken aback by the level of reaction.
Australian players were abused in the Lord’s Long Room as they left the field at lunch – which has led to the suspension of three MCC members – while Stuart Broad was quick to tell Carey “that’s all you’ll be remembered for.” Ben Stokes responded with a stunning display as he made 155 but Australia were able to win by 43 runs to take a 2-0 series lead, which has since been trimmed by a game following England’s Headingley success.
“There’s some nasty stuff been said but…it is the Ashes,” Carey said. “There was nasty stuff said before that as well. I feel really well supported. I think the whole group does. From Australia I still think we’ve got lots of fans and from England, I don’t think we’ve made any, but we probably didn’t lose any.
“It’s one of those things where a stumping that’s given out on field is turned into a massive story. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I absolutely respect that. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion on the spirit of cricket as well. Not just myself, the whole group’s had some stuff spoken about them. But we’re really tight. We understand what’s important and who matters and those guys definitely have our back.
“We’re all in it together, we were all out there, all walked through the Long Room together, post-match we all discussed it together. Don’t think the group would do anything differently.”
Explaining how the dismissal came about, Carey added: “We were switched on to the fact that it was a bouncer plan and it felt like Jonny was pretty switched on to getting out of the way, he wasn’t playing any shots. When he ducked his first movement was pretty much out of his crease, so I instinctively grabbed the ball, threw the stumps down and the rest is history.”
Carey said he had previously tried the mode of dismissal in other matches without being successful, and recalled falling that way early in his grade career for Glenelg in South Australia. He was also stood at the non-strikers’ end when Tom Cooper was dismissed in similar manner during a 2016-17 Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales.
“I’ve definitely been out to that a few times and I’ve tried to do it in the past as well. My first A-grade game in South Australia, I was out that way. And when I walked off, I was pretty disappointed. [The] captain came up to me, he said, ‘you’ll remember to keep your foot behind the line next time.’
“From my point of view, I wasn’t called [out] on it back when I’d have tried it about the spirit of cricket and when I was given out in the same sort of manner, I didn’t question it either.”
Cummins and Stokes respond to controversial Bairstow dismissal
Both captains have differing viewpoints on the dismissal through the spirit-of-cricket lens
Until the moment of Bairstow’s Lord’s stumping, all the coverage of Carey had been about his superb glovework – he had four previous stumpings off Nathan Lyon – and vital runs, starting in the World Test Championship final against India where he made 48 and 66 not out, followed by 66 at Edgbaston in a stand with Usman Khawaja which ensured Australia did not concede a hefty lead.
Behind the stumps he remained sharp at Headingley, where he was the focus of plenty of attention from the crowd, but the runs didn’t flow with scores of 8 and 5 as he was worked over by Mark Wood in the first innings then played on against Chris Woakes in the second.
“Nathan Lyon was bowling beautifully before he got injured and creating lots of opportunities,” Carey said. “Murph [Todd Murphy] obviously didn’t have as much opportunity last game but that will certainly change I think in Manchester.
“The quicks have bowled beautifully…[I’ve been] just trying to adapt on the go as well with a little bit of wobble that we haven’t seen. Feeling good, feel pretty solid in front of wicket, the last game wasn’t one that I would have loved, but you can see over here that when the clouds come over it’s a different game.”
Still, Headingley was not without one other bizarre situation for Carey when he was the case of mistaken identity over an unpaid haircut stemming from Alastair Cook’s comments on radio.
“The hair hasn’t been cut since we were down in Chelsea,” he confirmed. “It’s definitely due for a trim. But, no, I’m not that tight. I have been told I’m pretty tight.”
Cook has tried to build bridges. “He reached out and apologised so it was nice to hear from him,” Carey said.
One way or the other, it’s a first Ashes tour Carey won’t forget in a hurry.
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