England legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott insists Australia is babies’ first cry and he should apologize for Jonny Bairstow’s downfall.
Bairstow’s controversial sacking in Australia’s dramatic win at Lord’s has divided the sporting world and continues to spark debate ahead of the third Test at Headingley on Thursday.
With the game and series fully prepared, England’s seventh batter stepped out of his territory to chat with Ben Stokes and turned to see Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey had thrown the stumps.
The umpire hadn’t signaled the end of the plus, meaning the ball was not dead and Bairstow had to go.
However, the seemingly unsportsmanlike nature of the wicket sparked outrage at Lord’s, particularly in the Long Room, where three MCC members were suspended for insulting tourists.
Many have since questioned whether the Aussies should have withdrawn their appeal in the spirit of the game, while others insist Bairstow has only himself to blame.
After a furious backlash from within the English camp, led by Stuart Broad, the Western Australian newspaper faked an image of Captain Stokes as a child, alongside the headline: ‘Cry babies’.
But Boycott, who played 108 Tests for England and scored over 8,000 points, insists history shows the Aussies are the real whiners.
“If they want to call us cry babies…they were the original cry babies,” the former opening hitter told talkSPORT.
“In 1932/33, during the ‘bodyline’ series, England used the rules to get into the body. They (Australia) didn’t like it.
“They sent a telegram to MCC because they said it was not cricket, it was not in the spirit of the game.
“That’s what we’re talking about. They started it. They use it when it suits them.
“Even after the series ended, they contacted the MCC and urged them to change the rules and make sure there was no ‘bodyline’ in 1938 or they wouldn’t come.
“So tell me who the crying baby is and who started it?”
The boycott have no problem with Carey blocking Bairstow at the moment and calling the England wicket-keeper ‘idiot’, but insists Australian skipper Pat Cummins should have withdrawn his appeal once the situation became clearer.
The 82-year-old highlights a number of examples from his career where the spirit of the game prevailed over the law, such as when bowler Wally Grout refused to knock out England’s Fred Titmus when he was knocked down by an Australian defender in 1964.
Boycott continued: “When you’re competing and passions are running high, you do things instinctively. So Carey didn’t do anything wrong. Nothing at all. It’s just instinctual, you’re trying to get a wicket. .
“Bairstow was drowsy. Foolish as a brush, walking down the pitch. You wait for the ref to say, ‘over’. Or if it’s in the middle of an over, you look at the keeper and get a signal. It’ is the norm.
“Jonny just walked away thinking it was the end of the plus. They didn’t do anything wrong, they were happy to get him out.
“But then when you have a minute to think about it, the captain should have said, ‘Wait, what happened there?
“I had an incident like this, when we asked to withdraw the call because it just wasn’t going well.
“He wasn’t trying to run, it’s different from mankad. Bairstow wasn’t trying to get an advantage, he wasn’t trying to sneak, he’s just going to talk to his mate.
“You’re probably going to say, ‘Can we withdraw the appeal? It happened with us in South Africa in 1994. Mike Smith was out the same way and Trevor Goddard asked the referee to call him back.
“If you don’t have standards in cricket, what do you have?”
England bowler Broad recently claimed that Cummins will live to regret his decision not to recall Bairstow.
And Boycott believes the Australian captain would earn a lot of respect by apologizing for the incident, particularly in light of the 2019 tourist cheating scandal.
He added: “It takes a brave man to raise his hand and say, ‘We made a mistake in the heat of the moment.’
“That’s why the MCC members and the crowd were all overwhelmed: it’s passion, it’s emotion.
“People respect those who make mistakes and then raise their hands and say, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do that again, because that would be stupid.’
“It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
“If you want to follow the letter of the law in everything, you can do that. But surely there is a spirit and a standard that you should follow.
“After what happened in Cape Town with sandpaper, which was pure cheating, you would think they have a bit (of work) to catch up with people’s goodwill.”
However, Boycott insists England can find no excuse for losing 2-0 in the series with three players to play.
“Let’s not hide the cracks. We lost it ourselves. We are 2-0 and we should be 2-0. It’s simple.
“It’s our fault. We played brilliant cricket, they played lovely cricket, it was exciting and interesting.
“But we missed it because at times we were stupid.”