Saturday 19 January 2019

Swann slams Bairstow's 'crazy' call in Sydney Test

Former England spinner Graeme Swann presents Mason Crane with his first test cap. Photo credit: Jason O'Brien/PA Wire
Former England spinner Graeme Swann presents Mason Crane with his first test cap. Photo credit: Jason O'Brien/PA Wire

Nick Hoult

Jonny Bairstow's decision to refuse the offer of a nightwatchman was labelled "crazy" by former England bowler Graeme Swann, with even not-out batsman Dawid Malan admitting he was surprised to see him walking out to bat with just nine balls of the opening day of the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney to be bowled.

Bairstow's decision to take the field after the dismissal of Joe Root - for yet another unconverted 50 - was the latest to backfire on England on a tour of bad calls, with former players criticising Bairstow, as well as head coach Trevor Bayliss for allowing him to do so.

Even Australia's players admitted they were shocked to see Bairstow and the wicketkeeper was immediately targeted with the new ball by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Bairstow survived a review for lbw but Hazlewood drew an edge with the fourth ball of the final over to reduce England to 233 for five at the close - a score Malan believed was 150 runs short of an adequate total - as a disastrous final 10 minutes swung the game Australia's way at the SCG.

While Root dropped to his knees after failing to score a hundred having passed 50 for the fourth time in the series, the focus of attention was on Bairstow's decision not to use a nightwatchman, despite Mason Crane being padded up.

Stupid Michael Vaughan blamed Bayliss for allowing Bairstow to go out.

"It was a stupid decision to let Jonny risk his wicket," said Vaughan. "Joe had been batting. When I was captain and out there batting, I left the management of the team to Duncan Fletcher. You trust the coaches to make decisions while you are out in the middle.

"There is no way Fletcher would have let Jonny go out there."

England allow the batsman to decide if he wants protecting by using a nightwatchman but Swann believes that is a sign of weak management and that Bairstow should not have made the call.

"I can understand Jonny saying I want to go out there. It shows a lot of bravado," Swann said. "But it has nothing to do with Jonny in that situation. This is for the team. You don't have a say in it. I'm sorry, Jonny, take your pads off. It is crazy. There is no way he can win."

And Malan, who ended the day unbeaten on 55, admitted he did not expect to see Bairstow facing out the final few deliveries.

"I was surprised," he said. "It's always left to us as the next batsman in line. I'll always have one! But good on Bairstow for backing himself. Some people like a nightwatchman and some people don't. I will have one every time."

After the dismissal of Root and Bairstow, only the badly out-of-form Moeen Ali and Malan stood between Australia and the tail when play was due to resume half an hour early last night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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