England wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow has urged his team-mates to put a spate of off-field misdemeanours behind them and fire themselves back into Ashes contention with victory in the third Test at Perth.
The latest instalment of their battle with Australia gets underway in the early hours of Thursday morning with England 2-0 down in the series and needing to avoid defeat in order to have any hope of retaining the urn.
England’s build up to the third Test has been dogged by England Lions batsman Ben Duckett’s suspension for pouring a drink over senior bowler James Anderson in a Perth bar last week.
That followed Bairstow’s “headbutting” of Australia opener Cameron Bancroft and the continued absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes following his arrest outside a Bristol nightclub in September. Bairstow insists it is time to draw a line in the sand.
“The cricket has been really tough and that is exactly how international sport should be,” said Bairstow. “Whether it be rugby, football or cricket it’s the pinnacle of your sport and it’s a huge privilege to play it.
“As a team, it’s now our duty to put off-field incidents aside and go out on Thursday at the Waca, which is all set to be an amazing Test match, and do something really special.”
Bairstow concedes that the non-cricket sagas which have dominated the series have been damaging to the England set-up and it is the responsibility of the players to resurrect the image of the touring side.
“The relationships we’ve got with people are very good and we’re very fortunate for that,” added the Yorkshireman. “It’s taken a bit of a hit but it’s our job and our duties to rebuild those trusts and faith within the England cricket team.”
England face a daunting prospect at Perth, where they have not won since 1978. Even during the victorious 2010-11 series, England suffered a 267-run loss at the Waca.