Ian Bell

Ian Bell Exclusive: I made the same mistake as Bairstow and Jonny will know he was at fault

Ian Bell
England legend Ian Bell has been in Bairstow's shoes

The scandal of Jonny Bairstow's second innings stumping has overshadowed a classic Test match. England legend Ian Bell says the England batsman will know he made a mistake and says the real question is whether Australia should have withdrawn the appeal

  • Jonny will know he made a mistake

  • Decision was right but should Australia have rescinded?

  • England must use this to fire a third Test win


There's only place to start isn't there? The stumping of Jonny Bairstow. The debate will no doubt be raging well into - and beyond - the third Test at Headingley which starts on Thursday. And I can tell you I know exactly how Jonny will be feeling.

That's because something very similar happened to me. It was Trent Bridge against India in 2011. And the ball before tea, Eoin Morgan clipped one off his pads and the fielder fumbled and fell and everyone in the ground thought it was four.

I was unbeaten on 137. The slips picked up the helmets and started walking off. The umpires started handing back jumpers. Unfortunately, the ball wasn't dead. It hadn't gone for four. A throw came in and with me heading back to the pavilion for Trent Bridge's finest, the bails were whipped off.

Well, I felt sick. Instinctively I knew it was my fault. I wasn't trying to gain an advantage but I had just switched off. The difference, though, was that at the tea break, India and MS Dhoni, who was captaining, got together and decided that because of that they would reinstate me. It was some gesture.

Bairstow will know it's his fault

So first off all, Jonny will know that it's on him. After all was said and done after defeat on day five he would have gone back to his hotel room, closed the door, looked in the mirror and said to himself: that's my mistake.

In the heat of the moment, with the crowd riled and his team-mates angry about what had occurred he may have been feeling aggrieved. But once everything has cooled off, I suspect he will be bitterly disappointed that a moment of poor concentration has been so costly.

I was watching it live on TV when it happened and my gut reaction was 'he's wandered off way too early there'. If he had just looked behind, to see what Alex Carey was up to there would've been no issue. Carey has thrown the ball before he's even left the crease, so it suggests it's something he's noticed over a period of time. Jonny himself had tried it the day before, although it was different because Marnus Labuschagne was batting out of his crease. In Jonny's case, he was clearly not seeking an advantage.

Win will be remembered for the wrong reasons

I have no issue with the decision to give him out though. The rules are clear. It was out. Whether Australia should have withdrawn the appeal is up for debate though.

What is a shame for the Australians is that this win will be remembered for this incident, rather than the really impressive cricket they played, when conditions were against them for the majority of the time.

If I was Pat Cummins I would like to think that I would have had the feeling that it would be more trouble than it's worth and withdrawn the appeal. I'm sure Ben Stokes probably asked him: 'are you sure you want to go down this route?'.

Perhaps if Australia knew the reaction they would get he would have said 'actually, Jonny, that's just a warning. But next time...'

This will fire England up

So I'm not furious, as some England fans might be. And calling it cheating when the law is clear is not right either.

What the outcome is, and this is very sad, is that instead of talking about a really good Australia win and performance we're talking about controversy. And the Australians will be reminded of it, vociferously no doubt in this series, and beyond.

Whether England are able to use that anger to their advantage remains to be seen.

If anything it could serve as a wake-up call. On day one at Lord's they were accused of being too nicey-nicey with the Australians, too friendly. That's gone now. England will play aggressively hopefully. They need to. Headingley is a must win.

England must get street smart

Whether England get the win will depend on one thing: winning the key moments. I think England have played some good cricket at times. They will believe they can beat this Aussie team. They've stuck to their gameplan and had some good spells. England have had opportunities to win both tests.

But, boy the Aussies have been street smart. They are probably a more honed team with better rhythm thanks to that World Test Championship win and that has given them an advantage in tight moments. And a lot of their cricket has been superb.

In a close series, a team can bat and bowl brilliantly but it matters for nothing if they don't do it at the clutch times.

When I played in winning Ashes series I felt at times that Australia had perhaps put together better individual performances, centurions and five-fers and the like, but we had the game smarts in the big moments. England have to find that now.

Bazball isn't to blame

But I don't think we can start blaming Bazball or calling it out as reckless. Yes, errors were made in that first-innings when they looked capable of taking the game away from Australia. There were loose shots.

I noticed Harry Brook come in for criticism for just that, but we saw later on that a number of players got out in exactly the same way, such was the nature of the pitch. I really like Brook and the way he plays. He's a young man just at the start of his test career. He will learn and I have no doubt be a big player in Ashes cricket.

One of biggest things is now Australia will be without Nathan Lyon, so this could a big chance for England.

But ultimately England have lost two from two in a home series. Perhaps the controversy and Ben Stokes' brilliance has taken the spotlight off this somewhat.

England now need to be perfect for the rest of this series if they have any hopes of winning the Ashes. It really is as simple as that.


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