England legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott insists Australia are the original cry babies and they should apologise for the Jonny Bairstow stumping.
Bairstow’s controversial dismissal during Australia’s dramatic victory at Lord’s has split the world of sport and continues to drive debate ahead of the third Test at Headingley on Thursday.
With the match and the series perfectly-poised, England’s seventh batter wandered out of his crease for a chat with Ben Stokes and turned around to see Aussie wicketkeeper Alex Carey had thrown the stumps down.
The umpire had not signalled the end of the over, meaning the ball was not dead and Bairstow had to go.
However, the seemingly unsporting nature of the wicket sparked outrage at Lord’s, particularly in the Long Room, where three MCC members were suspended for hurling abuse at the tourists.
Many have since questioned whether the Aussies should have withdrawn their appeal in the spirit of the game, while others insist Bairstow only has himself to blame.
After a furious reaction from inside the England camp, led by Stuart Broad, the West Australian newspaper mocked up an image of captain Stokes as an infant, alongside the headline: ‘Cry babies’.
But Boycott, who played in 108 Tests for England and scored more than 8,000 runs, insists history shows the Aussies to be the real whingers.
“If they want to call us cry babies… they were the original cry babies,” the former opening batter told talkSPORT.
“In 1932/33, during the ‘bodyline’ series, England were using the rules to bowl into the body. They [Australia] didn’t like it.
“They sent a telegram to the MCC because they said it’s not cricket, it wasn’t in the spirit of the game.
“That’s what we’re talking about. They started it. They use it when it suits them.
“Even after the series finished, they contacted the MCC and pressurised them to alter the rules and made sure there was no ‘bodyline’ bowled in 1938, or else they weren’t coming.
“So tell me who’s the cry baby and who started it?”
Boycott has no problem with Carey stumping Bairstow in the moment, and calls the England wicketkeeper ‘daft’, but insists Aussie skipper Pat Cummins should have withdrawn the appeal once the situation became clearer.
The 82-year-old highlights a number of instances from his career where the spirit of the game prevailed over the law, such as when bowler Wally Grout refused to run out England’s Fred Titmus when he was knocked over by an Australian fielder in 1964.
Boycott continued: “When you’re competing and passions are high, you do things instinctively. So Carey did nothing wrong. Nothing at all. It’s just instinctive, you’re trying to get a wicket.
“Bairstow was dozy. Daft as a brush, walking down the pitch. You wait for the umpire to say, ‘over’. Or if it’s in the middle of an over, you look to the keeper and get a signal. That’s the norm.
“Jonny just wandered off thinking it was the end of the over. They did nothing wrong, they were delighted to get him out.
“But then, when you have a minute to think about it, the captain should’ve said, ‘Hang on, what happened there?’
“I’ve had an incident like this, when we asked to take the appeal back because it just didn’t look right.
“He wasn’t trying to get a run, it’s different to the mankad. Bairstow was not trying to get an advantage, he wasn’t trying to sneak a run, he’s just going to talk to his mate.
“Surely you just go, ‘Can we take the appeal back?’ It happened with us in 1994 in South Africa. Mike Smith was out the same way and Trevor Goddard asked the umpire to call him back.
“If you don’t have standards in cricket, what do you have?”
England bowler Broad recently claimed Cummins will live to regret his decision not to recall Bairstow.
And Boycott believes the Australia captain would earn a great deal of respect by apologising for the incident, especially in light of the tourists’ cheating scandal in 2019.
He added: “It takes a brave man to put his hand up and say, ‘We made a mistake in the heat of the moment’.
“That’s why the MCC members and the crowd were all upset: it’s passion, it’s emotion.
“People respect others who make mistakes and then put their hand up to say, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, because that would be stupid.’
“It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
“If you want to play by the letter of the law in everything, you can do. But surely there’s a spirit and a standard you should live by.
“After what happened in Cape Town with sandpaper, which was pure cheating, you would think they have a little bit [of work] to make up people’s good will.”
However, Boycott insists England cannot make any excuses for being 2-0 down in the series with three to play.
“Let’s not paper over any cracks. We’ve lost it ourselves. We’re 2-0 down and we should be 2-0 up. Simple.
“It’s our fault. We’ve played some brilliant cricket, they’ve played some lovely cricket, it’s been exciting and interesting.
“But we’ve blown it because in certain moments we’ve been stupid.”