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Carey stumps Bairstow and the Spirit of Cricket

Paul Ryan | July 03, 2023

In almost every game of cricket at any level around the world, you will see a wicket keeper standing back to the fast and medium pace bowlers. At some stage during an innings, the wicket keeper will take the ball the batter either let's go or misses and, in the same motion under arm it back towards the stumps in the hope the batter is out of their crease.

It's been happening since the game began and every wicket keeper, including all our favourite test keepers, have done it at some stage.

Why now, when Alex Carey, in the same motion, does it in a test match for Australia against England and Jonny Bairstow strangely walks out of his crease and is run out are some people so upset and screaming from the rooftops?

As players, we've all been on the field when our wicket keeper has done exactly what Carey did. Did you interject, stop the game, and politely ask your wicket keeper not to do it again?

We celebrate when a wicket keeper takes a stumping off a spinner because the ball has passed the bat, and in the same motion the keeper knocks the bails off and for whatever reason, the batter is out of their crease. Apart from the distance standing back, there's no difference.

We celebrate when a batter plays a cover drive straight to cover, and the fielder swoops on the ball and throws the stumps down with the batter aimlessly outside the crease. We've also scratched our heads at the poor batting when it happens.

I hear the term "Spirit of Cricket" being mentioned.

Individually we all have our own beliefs or definition of what the "Spirit of Cricket" means.

I find it fascinating how people's definition of the "Spirit of Cricket" can be easily undone when self-interest kicks in.

The "Spirit of Cricket" for me is simply play by the umpire's decisions. Keep it simple. Play hard, sure, but let the umpires make the decisions and move on.

The mateship, the camaraderie, sharing a beer, soft drink, or water over a chat and a laugh with your teammates, the opposition, and the umpires after the game all make the game more enjoyable and a far greater experience.

It's the same as accepting the captains, coaches, selectors, and administrators' decisions. You may not like the decision, but if you choose to continue, respect the decision and play to the best of your ability for yourself and your teammates.

If you're a fan, support your team. Ride the highs and lows but respect the umpire's decision. Don't let self-interest cloud your judgement.

In my opinion, that's the "Spirit of Cricket."

Carey did what all wicket keepers do, and Bairstow did what we're all told as youngsters not to do.




As always, right on the ball Mr Ryan. I find it somewhat poignant that Bairstow was the victim. In a court of law my question to Johnny Bairstow would be: "So, explain this to me like I'm a 6 year old. When you are keeping and you are standing back to a quick bowler and you see a batsman wandering out of his crease, you try to stump him by throwing the ball at the stumps, correct? YES, THAT IS CORRECT. So, when you are batting does it ever cross your mind that the opposing keeper might do the same thing? I GUESS I'D NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT THAT WAY. I rest my case your honour." You know what I hate about winnng an Ashes Test? NOTHING!

Well said Paul. Bairstow wandering out of his crease was just the most notable example of dumb cricket in this most "dumbest" of tests. Dumb plans, dumb captaincy, dumb bowling & dumb batting - it just fitted nicely.

I don’t think Carey did anything wrong, I don’t think Cummins did anything wrong. I think Bairstow was #careless (just like his keeping) and I also think B-road was a complete hypocrite telling Cummins and Carey what he thought on the field: Inremember him not walking having smacked it to the keeper in an Ashes series years ago.
I am a massive advocate of protecting the Spirit of Cricket especially embedding this with junior cricketers as there is far too much crass talk on cricket fields these days.
However in this match, in this moment even as an England supporter I don’t think this relevant.

well said. Bairstow looks behind and Carey doesn't. Then it's dead ball.

I hope Alex Carey didn't injure himself laughing too hard in the sheds later on

I think the English have a very short memory. Full stop.

Well said Ryano!

Hey Paul,
I totally agree with all you said. However, let me give a slightly different perspective, as I was quite unsettled by the whole incident at the time, and the reaction since. Even more so given the hysteria from the English public and the press.
The whole issue was unusual. I believe both captains were right.
Bairstow was negligent, and lazy, but he genuinely thought it was the end of the over and wasn’t trying to take an advantage. Cummins decision was based on the rules and a plan, nothing wrong with that. Stokes saw it differently, and I thought handled it well, no abuse, just got on with it, smiled and shook hands after the match. His comment at the press conference was balanced, and expressed his own values.
If the ball had missed the stumps and a run was on offer, would Bairstow have run? I think yes. Would Stokes have sent him back? I think yes. Just a different way of looking at things.
The spirit of cricket, show respect, play to the rules, accept the umpire’s decision. In my experiences, I tried to think in terms of the “smell test”.
• Is it legal?
• Is it fair?
• How will it make you feel about yourself?
As it is all done and dusted, my question is, how will all the players react. I am hoping the Aussies arc-up over the unfair hysteria and get stuck in. My fear is Cummins, in particular, may really think about his decision, as his character has been scrutinised by all and sundry, and this may not be to our advantage.

About Me

Paul Ryan

Current Rating: 5 / 5
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Former wicket keeping batter, I played NSW Premier Cricket for Western Suburbs, Mosman and St George from 1986 to 2004.
My professional background is in finance, sales and distribution.