Ashes handshake furore erupts
ENGLAND have reportedly failed to guarantee they will participate in Aussie captain Tim Paine's pre-match handshake gesture before play gets underway in the First Ashes Test on Thursday night (AEST).
According to a report, England captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss are "frustrated" about the Aussie skipper's new handshake tradition being included in the official running order of match day operations.
The Guardian reported the England captain is claiming to have been blindsided by the news, despite both countries officially signing off on the running order.
Root and Bayliss reportedly told ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle they had not been formally consulted about the handshake ceremony, which will follow the playing of the national anthems on Thursday night, until a meeting with ICC officials on the eve of the First Test.
The report claims it is very much up in the air as to whether Root and his team will now participate when Paine leads the Aussies towards their English rivals before the first ball is bowled.
Paine implemented the pre-game handshake between teams when he took over for the final Test against South Africa last year following Steve Smith's suspension.
It was symbolic of the new culture Paine hoped to implement within the Aussie dressing room.
This is exactly why the handshake has irked England, who have dismissed it as nothing more that a public relations move.
England ODI captain Eoin Morgan had no such complaints when Paine introduced the handshake gesture during last year's one-day series between Australia and England.
Root and Paine had no issues exchanging a handshake on Wednesday night (AEST) where they came together to pose with the Ashes trophies the two teams will be playing for.
The behaviour of the two teams has been a hot topic of discussion in the lead-up to the test series after England destroyed Australia in the semi-final of the World Cup last month.
Root said recently some behaviour from Australian players has led him to believe that Australia may not behave any differently to the aggressive unit that reclaimed the Ashes with a 4-0 series win on Aussie soil.
"Some of the comments that have crept out over the last couple of weeks makes me suggest that maybe not," Root said.
"We'll see. I'm sure it'll come up in the preview to the game with the match referees and (captains).
"We've got a way of playing our cricket and we don't want to get involved in anything that's unnecessary."
Meanwhile, a tetchy Paine has fired back at suggestions Edgbaston is the most intimidating cricket venue in the world.
Much has been made of the hostile reception awaiting Australia in Birmingham, especially for the returning Cape Town trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
Paine has grown tired of talking about the topic that has dominated discussions leading up the series opener.
"(More intimidating) than this? I could name you 15," Paine quipped in his pre-match press conference, when asked if he could think of a ground more daunting.
"I know a lot of the time when teams come to Australia and they know they have to go to the Gabba or the WACA, it plays on their mind.
"It doesn't affect us. It doesn't matter if we play at Edgbaston, the Gabba or on the moon. We think our best cricket is good enough.
"The Edgbaston pitch or the Edgbaston crowd, or grandstand, or whatever it is; certainly won't play a part in deciding this Test match."
The Barmy Army seems to be under the impression that Paine is mistaken.
See you tomorrow, champ. https://t.co/8f8eSgygsE— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) July 31, 2019
Questions about Australia's on-field behaviour also elicited an unwanted sense of deja vu for the keeper, who pointed out he has "spoken a lot about this in the last 12 months".
Paine noted that a quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill but which may not have been uttered by him, is being used as one of the 17-man squad's mantras.
"There's been a quote going around our change rooms this week from Winston Churchill and that is 'behaviour doesn't lie', so we can talk all we like about how we are going to behave," the captain said.
"Ultimately you guys will see how we behave and be able to judge for yourselves.
"Brad Haddin actually brought that up with me the other day. I quite like it. It's a great quote."
Paine also gave short shrift to a question about his place in the team.
"I'm 34 years old, mate, I don't really care about my place in the side any more," Paine said.
"I've said it before, at 34 years of age if you're looking further ahead than the next Test match you're kidding yourself."