Well, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Firstly, let’s clear up the business I became caught up in at the end of the first Test.
A headbutt, to me, is something that has malicious intent. I think that’s the dictionary definition. And that’s certainly not what happened between me and Cameron Bancroft when we met at the very start of the tour. The reality is that it was nothing.
Our security were there and happy nothing happened. Sorry, if I had headbutted someone I think they would have known all about it and damage would have been done. How can I describe it? Boys being boys, I guess. But there was minimal contact, I can tell you that.
No offence was taken and, talking to some of the Australian boys, they didn’t know anything about it until just before some of their players made comments to me about it during the Test at The Gabba. Those comments were picked up by a stump microphone and suddenly it had snowballed.
Jonny Bairstow (left) insists there was no malicious intent shown towards Cameron Bancroft
Eye of the storm
Did I feel as if I had been stitched up? Yes I did in many ways, but at the same time I honestly never thought of it as anything to worry about. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong and, more importantly, the team and management knew that too.
Australia, as they have admitted, were trying to use it to get under my skin. Realising what they were doing was important. I never said a thing back to them. Even that picture of me talking to Peter Handscomb in the middle painted the wrong picture. He was just asking, “What was going on?” It did get to me a bit when they started sledging me because I didn’t know what they were talking about. But I can honestly say the shot I got out to in the second innings had nothing to do with it.
I played a bad shot. You have to take a few risks when you’re batting with the tail and the truth is I had forgotten they had a third man.
Bairstow felt as though he had been stitched up by the Australians over the Bancroft incident
Australia have admitted they were trying to use the incident to get under Bairstow’s skin
Gritting it out
The press conference after the game was surreal. I needed to sit there in front of more than a hundred people and somehow explain and justify something that didn’t happen. I decided to say what I had to say and leave it at that.
People were questioning me and it brought out my grit and determination. It was different and the fuss was exactly what Australia wanted. We knew what they were doing. But it’s all part and parcel of the Ashes. It will give me another chapter when I update my book!
The verbal volleys
Some other things, apart from the ‘headbutt’ business, were said by Australia in the middle but what they were is staying there. We move on. Hopefully it’s gone now. I’m not making an issue of it. Only if they are said again would the matter go further. We just need to get on with trying to get back in this series.
The second Test was played in a good spirit, tough but fair. There were some verbals from both teams but this time nothing crossed the line. Clashes like we saw in Adelaide are part of sport.
Bairstow insists the second Test in Adelaide was played in a good spirit, tough but fair
You think when England played Australia last week in the rugby league World Cup final there weren’t words said? You have elite sportsmen doing their utmost to win a huge series. There are going to be frustrations and flashpoints. But if we were the type of people who shrink from conflict and a battle, we wouldn’t be here.
Remember, there are three members of the Australian side who have been team-mates of mine at Yorkshire — Handscomb, Mitchell Starc and Shaun Marsh — and we get on very well off the field. I had a good chat to Mitchell after the second Test and we leave what has gone on during the matches out there. I’ve not lost any friendships over the last couple of weeks, put it like that.
Back up our bowlers
We’ve done some good things in these two Tests and we’ve done some average things, but we have played some really good cricket.
We’ve lost the crucial moments, that’s the problem. The fourth day in Adelaide was outstanding but it wasn’t enough to get out of trouble. We bowled really nicely in the second innings: Jimmy Anderson and Chris Woakes were excellent.
You know when Jimmy is on it because he doesn’t want to let that ball out of his hand. Those 11 overs on the bounce on the third evening was an absolutely ruthless spell. We just need to score more runs. It’s as simple as that. It’s nothing new. We have to bat longer.
England’s batsmen need to build on the work done by their bowlers in the upcoming matches
A hard day-night
The day-night Test was different to playing under lights in England. The ball is different for a start and I again found it hard on my hands.
I’m not sure that twilight period made too much difference in how much the ball moved. Jimmy was just particularly good and was just as good in daylight, too.
What you have to say is that it was fantastic for supporters. I think nearly 200,000 people came to the Test over the five days, so that’s a terrific figure for the game. The Barmy Army and all the other England supporters there were brilliant. We seemed to hear them even more than usual in Adelaide. And that stadium is one of the best in the world.
One final point on the game — we wouldn’t have had such a great game if it had been a four-day Test. As it was, we went into a fifth day with both teams in with a chance of winning.
Bairstow believes the day-night Test was different to playing under floodlights in England
There was one special moment for me away from the cricket in Adelaide. A guy called Andrew Johns contacted me on Instagram to say when he was a boy he was at a shopping mall here and he went to see an appearance by the England team and won a pair of my dad’s keeping gloves signed by him and David Gower. And he wanted to give them to me.
It was a lovely gesture. They are now safely in my cricket bag and I will cherish them. The wonderful stories about my dad keep on coming, wherever I go in the world.
Bairstow was contacted on Instagram by a man who had a pair of his dad, David’s, gloves
Don’t write us off
We know Perth will be a quick, bouncy wicket but we’re fortunate to have played a warm-up game at the WACA at the start of this tour, so that will help us acclimatise.
If we bat for a day and a half, we can put miles in the legs of their three seamers and that has to take it out of them. I have heard some people questioning my place in the batting order but Joe Root wants me to bat at seven and that’s where it’s best for the team for me to bat at the moment.
We are still in this contest. They haven’t obliterated us or anything like that. I do not believe there is anything between the teams. We believe we can get back into these Ashes. The mood is good.
Everyone is level-headed. No one has given up. We need to win three Tests to take the series or two and a draw to retain the Ashes and we want to create history. I believe we can do it.
Bairstow believes England can turn around the 2-0 deficit currently staring them in the face