Jonny Bairstow, Australia's Ashes And Sport's Beautifully Murky Grey Area

Bairstow was dismissed in controversial circumstances at Lord's
18:00, 03 Jul 2023

The way England lost the second Test was just so… English. The batting performance from captain Ben Stokes was heroic, the 43-run defeat agonising and the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow an absolute disgrace. Or completely fair, depending on which side of the fence you sit on. 

Clearly some of the England players felt it was nothing short of cheating. “That’s all you will be remembered for,” Stuart Broad quipped at wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Meanwhile, the usually civilised long room at Lord’s descended into chaos as the members in that area vented their frustration at the visiting side. 

Usman Khawaja had to be pulled away from one particularly aggressive fan, while Ben Stokes claimed he would have withdrawn the appeal for the wicket, and wouldn’t have wanted to win in that manner. 


"Jonny was in his crease, then out of his crease to come down and have the chat,” he said after the defeat. “I am not disputing the fact it is out because it is out. Would I want to win a game in that manner? The answer for me is no."

England are now 2-0 down in the series and victory seems almost impossible. They have to be faultless for the rest of the series, and avoid the rain to stand any chance of an Ashes victory and Betfred price them at 10/1 to complete the unlikely feat. But despite the pain and seemingly unfair manner of defeat that saw the Aussies booed off - it’s what sport is all about. 

There has always been a murky grey area in sport. From handballs in football to stoppages in boxing, there are so many subjective calls that impact the result. Even in the second Test we saw another scenario when Mitchell Starc was denied a catch having used the ball to cushion his fall. But these are the moments we love to whinge about. They are the moments we have to talk about. 

England 13/8 to win the Third Test*

This morning, thousands of people up and down the country will have discussed Bairstow’s dismissal. Was it right? Was it wrong? Our discussion of the event won’t change the outcome but it does make us feel better and ultimately gives us something else to focus on. It’s far better to believe that England lost the Test because they were cheated, rather than just simply believe they weren't good enough.

We all hope for black and white decisions when watching our team, but the truth is sport is mainly grey. But there’s beauty in that area. If sport didn’t produce these talking points, it would all be very bland, and interest would dwindle, especially when it comes to those who are not emotionally involved in every aspect. For most casuals, they only pick up on these big moments. The ones that hit the headlines. The ones that are debated in the office.

People love sport when it is going their way, but they also love having something to point the finger at when it doesn’t. Whether that is an official, a dodgy decision or simply plain cheating from the other team, whinging is an integral part of the sporting experience. Trying to eradicate this grey area, as we have seen in football with VAR, is an impossibility. 

Trying to do so only leads to more issues and the grey area never diminishes, it just changes, like a shapeshifter. So embrace the greyness England and keep on moaning, whatever sporting outcomes come our way. Water cooler chat has become our form of therapy. 

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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