Jonny Bairstow admits England’s Ashes tourists have let captain Joe Root down with their off-the-field behaviour – and need to start winning back the trust of their supporters.
Bairstow found himself in the spotlight after the first-Test defeat in Brisbane, where one strand of Australia’s sledging centred on his curious ‘headbutt’ greeting for their opener Cameron Bancroft at the start of England’s tour in a Perth bar.
The wicketkeeper had to contend with unwanted headlines over that episode, which also resulted in the imposition of a midnight tour curfew by England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss.
Yet, on England’s return to Perth, 2-0 down in the Ashes already and in danger of losing the Ashes in the third Test at the WACA during the next week, there was further controversy when 10 of Root’s squad ventured back to the very same bar and found more trouble.
Ben Duckett poured beer over the head of all-time record national wicket-taker James Anderson and was subsequently handed a maximum fine, sent a final written warning about his conduct, and prevented from playing in any remaining England Lions fixtures before they return home on December 17.
Asked in that context whether the players feel they have let Root down, Bairstow said: “I think everyone realises that is something we have done.
“Not just him, but we move on from that now, and that is something that has happened and been dealt with. We’ve got a chance as a group of men to go out there and front up. We’ve got to put in a performance that is worthy of us winning at the WACA.”
Bairstow insists all is not yet lost.
“We’re 2-0 down, and it is a situation you don’t want to be in,” he added, at a Yorkshire Tea quiz night event in Perth.
"At the same time we’re not completely out of it – we’ve got three opportunities to go and do something special.”
It will be an astonishing turnaround if England do manage to win in Perth, for only the second time dating back to 1970, and somehow retain the urn in Melbourne and Sydney too.
Bairstow acknowledges, though, that improvement on the pitch as well as off is non-negotiable if they are to earn back the support of those who may be doubting them at present.
“We need to rebuild the trust we had built over the last few years as a team,” said the Yorkshireman. “That starts on Thursday morning. You rebuild it by winning games of cricket. That is what we’ve got to do, and what has got to happen.”