England fast bowler James Anderson believes the incident that saw Northants batsman Ben Duckett pour a drink over the bowler’s head was ‘blown out of proportion’.
Duckett was fined and suspended from the remainder of the England Lions tour after his prank on the country’s all-time leading wicket-taker, which took place at the same bar in Perth where Jonny Bairstow delivered his ‘head-butt’ greeting for Australia opener Cameron Bancroft.
Both incidents have occurred during an Ashes tour that sees England trail 2-0 with three Tests to play, and less than three months after vice-captain Ben Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm outside a Bristol nightclub.
Anderson is aware the players are under bigger scrutiny but downplayed what happened with County batsman Duckett.
“The incident with Ben Duckett was not malicious and was a bit of a non-event but we understand that in this climate we have to be smarter in the future,” he wrote in the Telegraph.
“The frustrating thing is that what was a pretty silly incident would have gone unnoticed before but now puts an unfair question mark over our culture.
“We are not those type of people. Five players from the squad have gone to see an England fan who is terminally ill and can’t come and watch the Test match.
“That sort of thing is not reported, which is fine, but is a fairer representation of this group of players rather than a couple of minor incidents in bars that have been blown out of all proportion.
“I know Australia will use the Duckett incident as a way of goading us, or taking the mickey. Fine. It will probably be funnier than what they have spouted at me so far in this series.”
Former England skipper Alastair Cook feels the drama surrounding Duckett’s actions shows that there is no room for error when you are an international cricketer.
“The world obviously changed for the England cricket team in September,” said Cook, referring to the Stokes affair.
“Those last two incidents have proven there is very little margin for error when you’ve had a beer.
“We’ve just got to smarten up, and we’ve got to do it quickly - because there’s too much at stake.”