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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak adds to Australia Ashes pile-on

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accused Australia of breaking the spirit of cricket, adding to the national pile-on over the controversial Jonny Bairstow stumping.

Australia is bracing for more harsh treatment from crowds at Headingley this week, after its dramatic 43-run win at Lord’s gave the tourists a 2-0 lead in the Ashes series.

England’s media on Monday laid the boot into Australia with several references to the word “cheat” on front and back pages, with images from within the Lord’s long room.

Both the Daily Express and Metro ran with the bodyline-themed “Just not cricket” headline, while London’s Daily Telegraph labelled it an “underhand dismissal”.

It came after both England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum hit out at Australia in the postscript to Sunday’s dramatic finish, saying they would have withdrawn the appeal.

Mr Sunak has now backed the pair’s claims, with a spokesperson for his office saying he was unhappy with Australia stumping Bairstow after he ducked a ball and wandered out of his crease.

“The Prime Minister agrees with Ben Stokes. He said he simply wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did,” a spokesman for Mr Sunak said.

“The game did provide an opportunity to see Ben Stokes at his best and it was an incredible Test match and he has confidence England will bounce back at Headingley.”

When asked whether Mr Sunak believed Australia had not upheld the spirit of cricket, his spokesperson said: “Yes.”

Australia has defended the stumping, adamant Bairstow had thrown the ball back at the wickets while wicketkeeping in the same Test.

Players also believe a decision on whether the ball is dead at the end of the over is one for the umpires, a point Stokes has largely disagreed with.

Australian players leave the Long Room at Lord's

Source: Twitter

Mr Sunak denounced the behaviour of members of the Marylebone Cricket Club who abused the Australians as they filed through the Long Room for lunch.

“He thinks it was right that the MCC has taken swift action to suspend any members accused of poor behaviour,” the spokesman said.

Several former players, including ex-England red and white-ball captains Andrew Strauss and Eoin Morgan were among those defending Australia.

“There was absolutely nothing wrong with it but, of course, the crowd will see it through English patriotic eyes,” Strauss said on Sky Sports.

“Bairstow was being dozy going outside of his crease. I was pretty comfortable with what Australia did.”

India star Ravichandran Ashwin has also backed Australia’s actions, having himself been involved in mankad controversies.

“The keeper would never have a dip at the stumps from that far out in a Test match unless he or his team have noticed a pattern of the batter leaving his crease after leaving a ball like Bairstow did,” Ashwin posted on social media.

“We must applaud the game smarts of the individual rather than skewing it towards unfair play or spirit of the game.”

-AAP

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