Sledging war gone too far, says England coach
TURN the microphones down. England's Australian coach Trevor Bayliss says he's uncomfortable by the level of sledging occurring in the Ashes and the effect it is having on the next generation of cricketers.
Tensions have been high ever since it was picked up by on-field microphones at the Gabba that England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow had greeted rookie Australian opener Cameron Bancroft by an unusal headbutt last month.
And the war of words have only continued in the first two days of the second Test in Adelaide with umpire Aleem Dar being forced to stand between Australian captain Steve Smith and veteran England fast bowler James Anderson on day one after a heated battle.
But Bayliss said the verbal attacks from both sides isn't a good look for the game
"Personally from my point of view, probably not," he said.
"And that goes from both sides.
"But it's just the way the game is these days.
"I would like to see the microphones turned down.
"I don't think that is necessarily a great thing for young kids at home watching.
"It adds to the spectacle when you hear playing the game.
"But I don't think anyone necessarily actually has to listen to what is being said."
Former Test off-break bowler Gavin Robertson believes England are doing themselves a disservice by sledging Smith and playing into the hands of the Australian captain by sledging him.
After coming under criticism for their attitude and demeanour during the first Test at the Gabba, England changed tact for the second Test in Adelaide.
Where they delivered a bumper barrage up at the Gabba to the in-form batsman in an attempt to halt his momentum, England retreated to a full frontal verbal attack for the day-night Test led by their experienced new ball pairing of Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Some pundits, including Sir Ian Botham, said that the tactics appeared to work after Smith was bowled by debutant Craig Overton for 40.
But Robertson was less convinced, believing that the constant chatter was actually feeding Smith's thirst for success.
"I was trying to think about (former captains) Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh or Mark Taylor and even AB (Allan Border), maybe the cameras are picking it up, but Steve Smith looks demonstrative to me," Robertson told Fox Sports' Bill and Boz.
"He's like moving towards the argument.
"It looks like to me he's stinging for it.
"He loves an argument.
"I think it works for him.
"Years ago I remember (South African captain) Hansie Cronje went after Steve Waugh - that didn't work.
"I think it actually motivates him (Smith)."
After Smith scored an unbeaten first innings century at the Gabba to set up Australia's crushing 10-wicket win in the first Test, it's likely that England will continue with the tactics when the right-handed batsman returns to the crease.
But Robertson insinuated that England's two outstanding bowlers would be best served by concentrating on a line and length, rather than getting under the skin of Smith.
"Now they're going to have to work that out (Smith's unflappable nature) sooner than later," Robertson said.
"They probably think by getting 40 that it did work, but I've noticed Anderson and Broad, we're talking about the two senior players in this side, they're more involved than they've ever been."
Robertson, who took 13 wickets in his four Test matches for Australia in 1998, added that Bayliss would have been left angered by Anderson's comments after the first Test where he claimed Smith's team were bullies.
"I don't want my opening bowler saying: 'The Aussies pick on us a little bit,'" Robertson said.
"I want him to say bring it on: 'Broady and I have done this before.'
"I mean Stuart Broad and James Anderson have been under the pump before numerous times, but they've made great comebacks.
"They've knocked Test sides over (and) they've won series' from when they've been behind.
"My guess was Trevor Bayliss would be annoyed with that comment.
"England have to have an attitude adjustment where we go up a gear and we fight hard, and we're going to have to take the game by the scruff of the neck and change the pace of the game."
Robertson isn't the only one concerned by England's start to their Ashes defence with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting taking aim at Joe Root's men.
While, England were competitive on the scoreboard for the opening three days of the first Test in Brisbane, Ponting said the 10-wicket defeat reflected Australia's dominance in the match.
"England haven't done anything to impress me yet," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"Everyone talked about how even the first Test was but it actually wasn't.
"Australia win by 10 wickets having lost the toss and the wicket was nowhere near like a Brisbane pitch.
"They got an England pitch for the first three days and they survived and held on because of the conditions.
"But as soon as they hardened up and got quicker England were found wanting and found wanting badly.
"The same thing here. They won the toss, they got the conditions that they wanted; a grassy pitch, overhead conditions.
"(Stuart) Broad and (James) Anderson, as good as they've been, they lacked that impact on the game."
England commence day three of the second Test still trailing Australia's first-innings score of 442/8 declared by some 413 runs with nine wickets in hand after Mark Stoneman's dismissal for 18.
Rain saved England, and out-of-form opener Alastair Cook from a testing final hour under lights facing the heat of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Cook will resume day three on 11 and be joined by James Vince, who is yet to score.
But speaking from personal experience, Ponting said that England's former captain, as well as bowlers Anderson and Broad, had shown that age was starting to catch up to them.
"They rely on too few and the few they rely on are past their best," Ponting said.
"Alastair Cook has made 11,000 Test runs and (played) 140 games but having been there and done it, it's really hard to improve as a player.
"If you look at Cook's last 6-12 months he got 240 in a Test against the West Indies over there and that made his whole summer look a whole a lot better than it was.
"He's just hanging on and the other two (Broad and Anderson) are the same.
"They're going to need to unearth something pretty special.
"The fact that (Ben) Stokes is not there is a huge hole in their side.
"A lot more pressure now comes back on Joe Root as the captain. He knows he now has to score huge runs for the rest of the series if they're going to be competitive.
"I said at the start there are a lot more chinks in their armour than I thought there was in ours."