Announcer hits back over alleged Panesar slur

Batting coach Graham Gooch slated England's display in the first Test. Picture: PA
Batting coach Graham Gooch slated England's display in the first Test. Picture: PA
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THE announcer sacked on the spot by Cricket Australia at the weekend has denied making a racist slur towards England spinner Monty Panesar.

David Nixon was accused of saying Panesar’s name in a mock Indian accent at the tour match between England and a CA Chairman’s XI in Alice Springs.

CA said Nixon, who works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) but had been hired by the sporting body for matchday duties in Alice Springs, was dismissed for “inappropriate conduct”.

However, the announcer defended himself on Monday and repeated to ABC what he claims he said during commentary.

“’There’s a change of bowler at the Traeger Avenue end. . . it’s Montyyy!’ That was it,” he said.

“I fail to see how anyone could interpret my introduction of Monty Panesar as racial slurring.”

Nixon added: “Someone has seen the opportunity for a screaming headline, including the words ‘Alice Springs’ and ‘racism’. . . and included the ABC and hit the jackpot.

“There’s been no one who’s been presented as the source of the story.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board said on Saturday that no complaint about Nixon had come from the tourists.

He recalled that he was stood down by a CA representative as he made his way back to the announcer’s box after lunch.

“She said ‘your style conflicts with ours, so we’ve relieved you for the afternoon’,” he added.

As far as on-field sledging is concerned, England should treat every Australian comment as a little victory, according to batting coach Graham Gooch.

Ahead of Thursday’s second test in Adelaide, he delivered a withering assessment of the team’s performance in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, claiming they “didn’t compete” on their way to a shock 381-run defeat at the Gabba.

England’s trouncing in Brisbane was notable not just for their double collapse – ten wickets fell for the addition of just 18 runs across two innings – but the apparent animosity between the teams on and off the pitch.

Both camps have since tried to calm the atmosphere, insisting the sledging – which cost home captain Michael Clarke almost £2,000 in an International Cricket Council fine – was no worse than the norm in the modern Test arena. They have also both made it clear the barracking will continue with gusto.

With Jonathan Trott having departed the tour due to a stress-related illness, ex-England captain Gooch confirmed that Joe Root and Ian Bell are the two candidates to replace him in the No 3 batting slot.

He also revealed that there is a skill to combating the sledge.

“If someone comes with sledging, people deal with it in different ways. Some people it motivates, makes them play better, more determined, some people it can unsettle.”

“Generally sledging is about getting you to play the man and not the ball, [to] get your focus off the ball,” he added.

“In my career, players I’ve seen who’ve dealt with it best either smile at the opposition or take it as a compliment.

“Generally, if you get sledged, you’re doing okay.” By that yardstick Joe Root must be Gooch’s star pupil, after he greeted Australia’s matchwinner Mitchell Johnson’s barrage of insults during England’s second innings in Brisbane with an insouciant grin.

Gooch’s England tutorials are just as likely to cover cricket’s mind games as the refined technical nuances of bat against ball and the 60-year-old’s most immediate challenge is to stop the collapses of the Gabba somehow infecting minds and bodies in Adelaide and beyond.

He said: “It’s tough, I wouldn’t deny that. It’s not the sort of defeat you want – a heavy defeat – and we didn’t compete.

“The batsmen’s job is to set up a platform for the bowlers to try to win the game. We didn’t even get close to that.”

“Everyone’s got to look at their game and how they can improve on their performance.

“There was nothing wrong with the wicket. Mitchell Johnson bowled particularly well. We hope our batsmen can give a better account because, unless you put a decent score on the board, you’re not going to win five-day games.”

If Root replaces Trott, it will mean the 22-year-old Yorkshireman is deployed in his sixth different batting position in less than a year since his Test debut.

Gooch said: “You start off with a plan, and you’d like to stick to it all the way through but players have to be adaptable.

“If these things come along, someone has to move and do the job.

“Whoever moves to number three – and it’s probably fair to say that Joe Root and Ian Bell are the two candidates – I’m sure they’ll stand up for England.”

“I’m sure both of them will want that challenge if they’re asked to fulfil that role.”

Tim Bresnan has been added to England’s Ashes squad and is in the reckoning to play in Adelaide this week as a third seamer following his recovery from a stress fracture in his lower back.