AUSTRALIAN cricket great Shane Warne has called England “crass” and “arrogant” following reports that a number of players urinated on the pitch at the Kia Oval following the fifth Ashes Test.
Australian journalists present at the ground wrote eyewitness reports of England players relieving themselves on the pitch to loud cheers during late night celebrations that followed a 3-0 series win.
It would not be the first time such a practice, however unsavoury, has been observed by a victorious cricket team but the incident has nevertheless attracted significant debate.
Surrey are certainly less than impressed by the reports and chief executive Richard Gould is said to have contacted the England and Wales Cricket Board. He has been quoted as saying the ECB are “looking into the matter”, though representatives from the board were unavailable to confirm that yesterday.
Warne has also waded into the controversy and insists the episode paints a bad picture of England.
It is not the first time Warne has been critical of England this summer, and he remains a close ally of the Baggy Green dressing room, but his comments in an English newspaper yesterday were explosive nonetheless.
“Unfortunately, the way people are judged these days it’s best to celebrate within the confines of the dressing room,” he said. “Stay in there as long as you like, get as drunk as you like if that is what you want to do and enjoy your team-mates and the moment. But to go and disrespect something as ancient as the Oval pitch in such an unnecessary and crass way is a pretty ordinary and arrogant thing to do. I wonder also if the opposition was mentioned too?”
It is the second time Warne has accused England of arrogance this summer, but he felt they had lifted their standards prior to their late-night celebrations. “I noticed a significant change in their attitude in the last two Tests and the way they conducted themselves off the pitch,” he added.
“I thought they were very humble when they won the Ashes, but emotional and excited too. They celebrated with the fans, enjoyed each other, had their children with them, it was a very special time for the England players.
“It’s a real shame they let themselves down so badly and I’m sure it will have some big ramifications from the ECB.”
England’s Graeme Swann, the hosts’ top wicket-taker in the series, appeared to confirm the story when writing in another newspaper, but attempted to play it down.
“We did go out to the middle of the pitch, all the lads, drinking beers, singing a few songs and enjoying each other’s company.
“I think the call of nature might have come once or twice but it was nothing untoward.
“It was midnight, a private celebration in the middle of the pitch and the ground was dark.”
Team director Andy Flower was offered the chance to cast his eye over his players’ toilet habits on Monday, but dismissed it as a “ridiculous topic”.
The incident is not the first this summer to involve unsavoury behaviour by England players after spinner Monty Panesar was given a police fine for urinating on bouncers outside a Brighton nightclub on August 5.
Vaughan says ODI fans deserve refund
FORMER England captain Michael Vaughan believes fans should be offered refunds for the upcoming one-day international series against Australia after the core of the Ashes-winning team were left out of the 50-over squad.
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed yesterday that skipper Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann would be rested for the five-match series, as well as next week’s one-off match against Ireland in Dublin. Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes, who debuted at the Kia Oval last week, have also not been included in the squad.
With Australia also making a raft of changes – only seven of their 18-man ODI squad played in the Test series – both countries clearly have their eye on the return Ashes winter.
Vaughan wrote on his Twitter page: “I would have only rested Captain Cook. Plenty of time to rest from Sept 16th-Nov 21st!!!? Can’t sell tickets then rest 5 star names!!!! No problems resting players but I think supporters who have paid to watch the best should get a small refund.”
England will look at pace bowling options in the series, with Jordan and Overton receiving senior call-ups for the first time, and joining Morgan’s fellow Irishman Boyd Rankin in a revamped attack. Veteran batsman Carberry, enjoying a fine white-ball season with Hampshire, also stands on the verge of a first ODI cap, as does highly-rated Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance.
Ballance, Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor and Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs will drop out after the Ireland match to make way.
England ODI squad v Ireland (Sep 3): E Morgan (Middlesex, capt), G Ballance (Yorkshire), R Bopara (Essex), D Briggs (Hampshire), J Buttler (Somerset), M Carberry (Hampshire), S Finn (Middlesex), C Jordan (Sussex), J Overton (Somerset), B Rankin (Warwickshire), B Stokes (Durham), J Taylor (Nottinghamshire), J Tredwell (Kent), L Wright (Sussex).
England squad for NatWest ODI series v Australia (from Sep 6): E Morgan (Middlesex, capt), R Bopara (Essex), J Buttler (Somerset), M Carberry (Hampshire), S Finn (Middlesex), C Jordan (Sussex), J Overton (Somerset), K Pietersen (Surrey), B Rankin (Warwickshire), J Root (Yorkshire), B Stokes (Durham), J Tredwell (Kent), J Trott (Warwickshire), L Wright (Sussex).