The Press Tent: The ‘Alcohol-related’ edition

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler

Where else to start but the Ashes, where the ding-dong battle between “Alcohol-related incidents” and England Test defeats continues to enthral.

The ARI have nudged back into a 3-2 lead after Ben Duckett poured a drink over James Anderson.

Now Duckett isn’t technically part of the England squad, but we’re counting it anyway because everyone else is.

Yes, with ARI now the accepted shorthand for literally anything from spilling a pint to an unusual ill-judged greeting to breaking someone’s jaw.

Duckett’s indiscretion is so phenomenally insignificant you have to admire the huge effort everyone has put in to being appalled about it. But appalled they are.

Jonathan Agnew went on Radio Five to shake his head and express disbelief that England had gone back to a bar where a previous insignificant incident had happened only for another insignificant incident to occur. What are the odds?

The football journalists have had their say, of course, with Paul Hayward in the Telegraph leading the cry by suggesting ending careers in an article that even had football in the URL.

It’s all a tremendous nonsense, of course. Every time Trevor Bayliss speaks or Andrew Strauss acts, they do the Aussies’ jobs for them.

Bayliss’ harrumphing and talk of “stern words” and “unacceptable” behaviour fuels the falsehood that the England squad is a gaggle of drunkards.

When the Australian media tried to make something out of the Bairstow “headbutt”, Strauss should have taken the opportunity to defend his players. Instead he imposed a curfew. It’s a shambles.

The ECB is obsessed with secrecy (see also: “outside cricket” debacle) and never let the full story be known until it’s too late.

By taking as long as they did to get the full details of Duckett’s small and twatty indiscretion, it was too late.

It was already an “alcohol-related incident” to be filed alongside the others even though we’re confident it wouldn’t make the top 50 indiscretions on any previous tour.

We’re excited to see what disgraceful alcohol-related incident will befall the squad after the traditional defeat in Perth.

Tom Curran ordering a Guinness at the end of a round instead of the start? Christmas jumpers? Ben Foakes asking to try every ale and then just ordering a Foster’s?

What goes around…

One (former) England player is enjoying himself in Australia anyway.

Four years on from being scapegoated for England’s last dismal failure in Australia, Kevin Pietersen is now trying to turn attention to one of the men who ended his career.

“It looks like (Alastair) Cook is not very interested,” Pietersen said. “Just the way that he’s got out, the manner of his dismissals and also the way he’s walked off the field once he’s got out.”

Ouch.

Alastair Cook out

The drugs don’t work

When is a 12-month ban not a 12-month ban? When it’s the 12-month ban handed to Mohammad Shahzad this week.

Now, cricket doesn’t really take doping seriously. It’s far from alone in that regard, of course, with football’s astonishing naivety this week represented by Gary Lineker insisting that there would be no performance benefit in taking substances that may allow footballers to train longer and harder, run faster, perform deeper into the games and recover more quickly.

Shahzad’s 12-month ban announced this week will end on, er, January 16 next year. A month.

The reason for this is that his ban is backdated to the date his urine sample was provided. But he played 17 matches after that point.

He was still playing ODIs and Intercontinental Cup games against Ireland as late as the end of March.

Backdating to the date of his sample rather than his last appearances is perverse and makes light of what may be the next great controversy in the sport as power and strength grows ever more lucrative.

Boycott Bingo

Like a lot of people who spend all their time criticising others, Geoffrey Boycott has a remarkably thin skin when the boot is on the other foot.

After learning of a Matthew Engel piece that could have gone far further in it’s criticism, Boycott began ragetweeting.

Our favourite bit was when he quote-tweeted a link to the article by the famous cricket writer Matthew Engel in a tweet that literally included the words “By Matthew Engel” and ranted on about anonymous trolls who think “because no one can identify their real name or address they can be nasty or rude and abuse me”.

We’re pretty sure Matthew Engel is his real name, Geoff.