Rishi Sunak has accused Australia of breaking the spirit of cricket over the controversial dismissal of Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s.
England’s Bairstow was stumped in bizarre circumstances on a tense final day in the second Test, with Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey throwing down the stumps after the batter ducked the final ball of the over and set off to talk to partner Ben Stokes in the apparent belief the over had ended.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Sunak, a keen cricket fan, agreed with the views of England captain Stokes about the incident.
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The spokesman told reporters: “The Prime Minister agrees with Ben Stokes. He said he simply wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did.
“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.”
Asked whether Mr Sunak believed Australia’s actions were not in keeping with the spirit of cricket, his spokesman said: “Yes.”
Mr Sunak was at Lord’s on Saturday for the fourth day of the test match, which reached its conclusion on Sunday with Australia winning by 43 runs despite Stokes’ dramatic innings of 155.
The England skipper appeared galvanised by the dismissal of Bairstow but he ultimately failed in his efforts to secure an unlikely victory.
Anger in the crowd at the manner of Bairstow’s exit spilled over in the usually restrained Long Room at Lord’s, where Australian players Usman Khawaja and David Warner were involved in heated exchanges with jeering members – three of whom were later suspended by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: “He thinks it was right that the MCC has taken swift action to suspend any member accused of poor behaviour.”
The Prime Minister was there when injured Australian spinner Nathan Lyon “hobbled out to bat on Saturday, obviously in considerable pain, and he was given a standing ovation by members”, the spokesman said.
“That’s much more in keeping with the spirit of the game.”