Rishi Sunak has joined the row over the controversial dismissal of Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s, with his spokesperson saying he did not believe Australia’s actions were within the spirit of cricket.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said Mr Sunak agreed with the views of England captain Ben Stokes about the incident, which saw Bairstow duck under a bouncer from Cameron Green.
He then tapped the crease before taking a few steps beyond it to prod the pitch.
As he did so, Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey sent an under-arm throw – before leaping for joy as he hit the stumps.
The umpires quickly ruled the England player was out.
Following the incident, the England captain questioned whether it was in the “spirit of the game”, saying: “If I was fielding captain at the time, I would have put a lot more pressure on the umpires to ask them what their decision was around the ‘over’.
“Then I would have had a real think about the spirit of the game and would I want to potentially win a game with something like that happening. It would be no.”
Asked about the controversy on Monday, Mr Sunak’s official spokesperson said: “The prime minister agrees with Ben Stokes. He said he simply wouldn’t want to win a game in the manner Australia did.
“The game did provide an opportunity to see Ben Stokes at his best and it was an incredible test match and he has confidence England will bounce back at Headingley.”
Asked whether Mr Sunak believed Australia’s actions were not in keeping with the spirit of cricket, his spokesperson said: “Yes.”
Mr Sunak, a keen cricket fan, was at Lord’s on Saturday for the fourth day of the test match.
Australia ended up winning by 43 runs despite Stokes’ innings of 155, taking a 2-0 lead.
The 32,000-strong crowd erupted in boos, jeers and repeated choruses of “same old Aussies, always cheating” following Bairstow’s dismissal.
Later in the Long Room, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) members exchanged heated words with Australian players as they walked off at lunch.
Mr Sunak’s spokesman said the prime minister believed it was “right” that the MCC “has taken swift action to suspend any member accused of poor behaviour”.