The Test documentary reveals Cummins’ role in controversial Bairstow stumping

Australia

Pat Cummins‘ key role in the controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s which ignited last year’s Ashes series has been revealed while team-mates have admitted they were concerned for Alex Carey‘s well-being in the aftermath.

The incident, on the fourth day of the second Test, is a major theme in season three of The Test, the documentary series following the Australia men’s team, which premiers on Prime Video on May 24. The Bairstow stumping and the fallout has been well documented, but Cummins’ central role in its execution has now been made clear.

“Cam Green was bowling and bowled a bouncer and he [Bairstow] ducked underneath it and then just walked out of his crease,” Cummins says. “So I just said to Kez [Carey] the ball before, I said ‘Kez, just have a throw’.”

Carey was on target with the throw and Bairstow was given out by the TV umpire which sparked one of the biggest controversies in recent Ashes history. The Australians were abused by MCC members in the Long Room as they came off the field for lunch with players from both sides then coming face to face in the dining area.

“Walking back into the Long Room, it was like we’d ripped the soul of out them … absolutely, yeah, people stepped over the line,” Cummins recalls in one of the interviews which intersperses footage from inside the dressing room.

Usman Khawaja says: “One of them [the members] … [was] spraying me. I was like ‘nup, you can’t be saying that stuff’. He said ‘oh, I can say whatever I effing want’, like a sense of entitlement almost.”

Marnus Labuschagne adds: “One of them was foaming at the mouth. A bloke hit Bull [David Warner] when he went up the stairs.”

Reflecting on the moment in the dressing room, Carey quips: “Someone told me to throw it…not sure who it was.”

Mitchell Marsh, meanwhile, recalls the dining room scene: “I was sitting there like a school kid who shouldn’t be laughing…eating my soup, then I look up at Jonny and Jonny is staring over at us and I’m like [mimics trying not to spit out his soup].”

Cummins was adamant at the time that there was no issue with the dismissal amid calls he should have rescinded the appeal and in the documentary he remains so. “Just clear-cut, it was out,” he says.

Australia almost had the game wrestled away from them by a fired-up Ben Stokes who made a spectacular 155 but survived his onslaught to secure a 43-run win which put them 2-0 up following the heart-stopping Edgbaston victory and on the brink of winning an Ashes in England for the first time since 2001.

Following the Bairstow stumping, Carey endured significant abuse from crowds and on social media, the latter so much so that Australia’s cybersecurity police became involved.

The documentary shows Carey and his wife Eloise discussing the days and weeks after the incident. “It got a little nasty there for a while,” Carey says. “That’s probably the thing that shocked me the most, the abuse, people going after you…personal, family, all that sort of stuff.”

Carey’s form fell away after Lord’s and he lost his place in the ODI side early in the World Cup, which does not feature in the documentary. During an uncertain home summer against West Indies and Pakistan, questions were starting to be raised about his position, but he silenced all the talk with a match-winning unbeaten 98 against New Zealand in Christchurch.

“I could sense he wasn’t quite right mentally and I can understand it,” Steven Smith says. “I was worried about him and his well-being.”

“Everyone projected on Kez and didn’t project on anyone else. It was all on Kez,” Khawaja says. “Looking back on it, I just feel so bad for him what he went through at the time and what his family would have gone through being there at the time. It would have been so hard.”

Ashes turns on Headingley collapse

Having reached the brink of Ashes success, Australia let the opportunity slip away over the next three Tests although two days of rain at Old Trafford gave them the draw that ensured the urn was retained to go alongside their World Test Championship title, having beaten India at The Oval, which begins the three-part series.

At Headingley, the joy of Marsh’s comeback century soon fades amid Australia’s second-innings collapse. Labuschagne admits his slog sweep against Moeen Ali which began the slide was a crucial moment.

“That moment there is probably one, like, you had it,” he says, “You literally had it.”

“Sometimes you can’t create something out of nothing,” Cummins says, “but it’s not nice when you are sitting there saying ‘yeah, we were totally outplayed there’.”

The Oval ball change

In the final Test, having been left a demanding target of 384, hopes were raised to the point of them feeling favourites as Khawaja and Warner put on a century opening stand. Then Khawaja got hit on the helmet by a Mark Wood bouncer and the umpires felt the need to change the ball. The one chosen appeared much harder and shinier, and even in a brief period on the fourth day before rain arrived it did much more. The Australians were not impressed.

“It’s almost like a brand new ball they’ve given them,” Khawaja says. “I was worried.”

Smith says: “This ball’s just from another planet, it’s like it had a mind of its own…think we could all see clearly from the cameras off the ground that the ball looked entirely different.”

In dressing-room footage, Smith is shown laughing at TV pictures. “They are not even close,” he says.

There is, though, an acknowledgement Australia could still have found a way. “It halted our momentum when the ball changed,” Mitchell Starc says, “and we weren’t good enough or quick enough to adapt to that.”

England took three quick wickets before Smith and Travis Head put on 95 to bring the target within sight, only for Moeen, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad, who was playing his final Test, to run through the innings.

An overriding theme through the documentary is how Australia feel they are the better team. “We shouldn’t lose one game,” Labuschagne says early in the first episode, although Smith acknowledges their overseas record is not as strong.

“What England are trying to do is force the opposition to panic. Put all our egos aside, if we get them to play our brand of cricket they’re not good enough to compete against us,” says Nathan Lyon, whose series-ending calf injury is another key theme, ahead of the first Test.

By the end, the sense is of a missed opportunity, particularly for the players unlikely to get another chance to tour. “Disappointing is the word for me,” Smith says. “Feel like there’s unfinished business I suppose for this group.”

Cummins adds: “I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved but the competitor in me is still like, urgh, we left a little bit out there.”

Regardless, though, Khawaja was confident the series would go down in folklore. “I reckon there will be kids in the future talking about [the] 2023 Ashes because it had absolutely everything. At the end of the day, I have no doubt cricket was the winner.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Inspired by Woolmer, ‘thick-skinned’ Kirsten ready for Pakistan challenge
Yorkshire sign Vishwa Fernando for three-game County Championship stint
Stuttering Royals look to find their form and seal top-two spot
India vs SA: Bengaluru and Chennai to host women’s all-format series
Cricket Ireland confirms Pakistan white-ball tour in 2025

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *