The Cricketer
Huw Turbervill Huw Turbervill


HUW TURBERVILL: England are losing the Ashes PR war

Just as Shane Warne dominated for so many Ashes series, the perception is that the Australians are winning the spin battle down under.

There was much merriment at the Cameron Bancroft/Steve Smith press conference after the first Test at Brisbane, when the latter explained how he was greeted by a headbutt from Jonny Bairstow in Perth.

How the story entered the public domain is a subject of much debate.

It has resulted in a midnight curfew being imposed on the tourists by their chief, Andrew Strauss.

Personally I found the ridiculing of Bairstow a bit distasteful. Others read it differently, defending Bancroft, who don’t forget was on Test day-boo.

He could have put the knife in more. He could have silenced the story quicker.

I am tempted to resurrect Andrew Flintoff’s remark to Dwayne Bravo in 2004: “Let's see where you are in three years' time, this game has a funny way of biting you on the arse.” But maybe I am being harsh…

It's been a tough week for Jonny Bairstow

Readers of The Cricketer have asked if the England team need a spin master of their own directing operations – like an Alastair Campbell figure. Other names mentioned were Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s former press officer bruiser, and Mrs Thatcher’s old spinmeister, Sir Bernard Ingham. Maybe even Seamus Milne could be seconded from Jeremy Corbyn’s office.

The Cricketer says… careful what you wish for.

The team’s press officer, Danny Reuben, is an excellent egg. He is open and helpful and has played a part in improving the image of the team no end.

England had experienced Fleet Street operative Colin Gibson in charge of their media operations before the current director of comms, Chris Haynes. A genial man and a fine journalist, Gibson had his fans and his critics: he was a warm and fun man to work for.

Before his stint with the ECB, he worked for the FA, and found himself at the centre of a storm involving Sven-Goran Eriksson, Mark Palios, Faria Alam and The News of the World.

Do England need a spin doctor like Seamus Milne?

As to Campbell, he was the spin officer on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2005. The Lions were whitewashed under coach Clive Woodward and Campbell’s presence on the trip was deemed to be not overtly helpful.

Australia have their own formidable spinner in the pugnacious Malcolm Conn, News Corp veteran: the classic poacher-turned-gamekeeper.

Would an English spinner (and I don’t mean Moeen Ali or Mason Crane, or even Jack Leach) be helpful in questioning, say Usman Khawaja’s technique?

Perhaps it all comes to down to personal taste again…

And almost certainly if England had won or even drawn the first Test, this would all be less of an issue.

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