England’s Ashes tour plunged to a new low on Saturday after the Lions batsman Ben Duckett was expelled from the weekend’s tour match in Perth and left facing punishment for pouring a pint over bowler James Anderson in a bar in Perth. The incident did not involve any members of the public or the police.
The incident might seem insignificant, but it left the head coach Trevor Bayliss furious, not least since it comes after England’s defeat in the second Test at Adelaide. The latest alcohol-related episode took place in the Avenue bar in Claremont in the early hours of Friday morning, the first night that the squad’s strict curfew was relaxed. Moreover, it is the very same bar where Jonny Bairstow was accused of ‘headbutting’ Australia’s Cameron Bancroft at the beginning of the Ashes tour. Had it not been for that controversy, the matter might have been resolved without public attention.
Even though training and determination account for a big success of a person or a team on the field, such as when Jamie Vardy made the news for scoring at many successive games, it’s little incidents like these that happen outside the field that also have a huge say in a player’s career.
In an effort to strengthen the team’s discipline, Bayliss is now considering dropping two or three players at the end of the tour.
“It’s trivial, but in the current climate not acceptable,” said Bayliss. “Everyone has been warned that even small things can be blown out of all proportion. They can’t keep making the same mistakes.”
With the squad’s vice-captain Stokes already suspended earlier this year, following his arrest in Bristol on 25 September, it is understandable why this latest indiscretion made Bayliss so angry.
“The ECB have also been quite strict with the boys with their message. Most of the guys are fine but somewhere along the line some of them have to pull their heads in,” added Bayliss.
Duckett was planned to be one of the Lions called into the XI while the senior players are resting between Ashes fixtures. Instead, the 23-year-old batsman is now facing a disciplinary investigation and probably also a trip home. On the other hand, there is no suggestion that Anderson (31), England’s all-time leading wicket-taker who was on the receiving end of Duckett’s drink, did anything wrong.
Duckett should have listened to the team director Andrew Strauss who, speaking at the end of the 10-wicket defeat, said: “I think the players need to be smarter. That’s the reality, they are adults, intelligent adults, and at times they are not using that intelligence in the right way.”