Friday 23 March 2018

Cook calls on players to ensure there is no repeat of 'ugly' first Test scenes

Adelaide Oval, Australia
Adelaide Oval, Australia

Derek Pringle in Adelaide

The atmosphere at the Adelaide Oval will lack some of the gladiatorial intensity of the Gabba, not least because the stadium is only half finished, but that has not stopped Jeff Crowe, the match referee, from warning both captains about the behaviour of their players before the second Test, which starts tonight.

England admit to sledging, but there was an intensity about the Brisbane Test that caused even old hands such as Ian Chappell to feel it was unacceptable. Senior members of the England and Wales Cricket Board were so astounded by the behaviour of Australia's supporters that representations have been made to Cricket Australia about the possibility of not playing there on future tours.

Whether the fans drove the players, especially Australia's, to ever-more aggressive taunts, is unclear, but, whatever the reason, it took many, Alastair Cook's team included, by surprise.

"Some of those scenes were ugly at the end of the game," Cook agreed. "We do have a duty to play the game in the right way. We do want to play tough cricket, just like Australia do, but we have to make sure we stick to those boundaries.

"We all know the responsibilities we have when we pull on the shirt. No matter how much emotion there is in the game, we know how many people are watching us and we have got to behave appropriately.

"It shouldn't be a tea party, though. People pay good money to see tough, competitive cricket. That is what people love about the Ashes or any competitive cricket."

Cook himself appears impervious to verbal barbs, but that may not be the case for the new faces whom England could decide to blood here.

An Ashes Test is not the easiest place to make a debut, which is why Cook needs his senior players such as Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Matt Prior, James Anderson and Graeme Swann, to perform for him here.

Pietersen, who made a double century here three years ago, averages more than a hundred at the Adelaide Oval, so an average performance from him would suit England well. With Joe Root almost certain to bat at three, the middle order of Pietersen and Bell need to make scores if the team are to make more than 400, something they have not achieved for 17 innings.

If they do that, Anderson, who was swinging the ball in the nets yesterday and the bowlers would at least have a decent buffer to put Australia under pressure. Until that happens you are not really competing.

"The senior players will have to lead the way if we are going to get back into the series," Cook said. "We are lucky in that we have so many players with so many caps who have delivered, not only against Australia, but on this ground as well.

"We are going to have to draw on that and the five or six most senior players are going to have to lead from the front and put in a match-winning performance."

The Ashes,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 11.0pm

Irish Independent

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