England head coach Trevor Bayliss insists he is ready to ban players from drinking alcohol after claims that wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow headbutted Australia opener Cameron Bancroft overshadowed the end of the first Ashes Test.
Australia swiftly completed a 10-wicket win on the final day in Brisbane but post-match discussion centred on the allegations of an incident involving Bairstow and Bancroft at a pub in Perth on 29 October, just hours after England arrived Down Under.
Reports of the clash emerged on Sunday when Australia players targeted Bairstow, 28, for sledging and after the match Bancroft addressed media to describe the “weird” encounter, although he insisted there had been “no malice” from the Yorkshireman.
Bayliss repeated Bairstow’s position that the episode had been exaggerated but, with Test vice-captain Ben Stokes absent following a separate nightlife-related controversy, the coach did not hide his anger at his players’ conduct.
“Most people in the world like going out at night and having a couple of quiet ones. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t do anything stupid. We’ve just got to be smarter,” said Bayliss.
“And if that means not having anything to drink, then so be it. Any team will take any opportunity to get stuck into the opposition and make them feel uncomfortable wherever possible. If you put yourself in that situation you’re fair game.
“Are we disappointed that some small incident gets blown up, put in the press and brought up? Yes – it is a distraction. I’m sure there will be further discussions between myself, management and the players.”
Asked whether he expected England players to change their behaviour, he added: “Well that’s what I thought after Bristol [the alleged Ben Stokes incident] as well. They’d be extra dumb and stupid if it didn’t, that’s for sure.”
All-rounder Stokes remains in England under investigation for actual bodily harm following a night out with fellow players after a one-day international victory over West Indies in Bristol in September.
Bairstow is not expected to be disciplined for his clash with Bancroft, 25, and there is no suggestion that Australian police are involved.
Bancroft, flanked by giggling Australia skipper Steve Smith, appeared to revel in recounting his meeting with Bairstow, which occurred when he was out celebrating a win with his state team Western Australia.
“I got into a very amicable conversation with Jonny and he just greeted me with a headbutt kind of thing,” he said.
“I was expecting a handshake. It wasn’t the greeting that I was expecting and that was the way I took it. There was certainly no malice in his action and we continued on having very good conversation for the rest of the evening.”
Bairstow had earlier addressed media without taking questions.
“Personally I think it has been blown completely out of proportion,” he said.
“Cameron and I enjoyed the evening and continued to do so. There was no intent or malice about anything during the evening. As you could see out there today, there’s no animosity between myself, Cameron, any of the other Australian players. Hopefully now we can swipe this underneath the table and continue what’s going to be a fantastic and exciting series.”