England cricketers 'urinated on Oval wicket' after Ashes finale
Allegations mar end of series celebrations as England come in for more yet criticism
ENGLAND'S Ashes triumph has been overshadowed by claims that members of the team urinated on the Oval pitch after the match.
After drawing the fifth and final Test of the series, England's players returned to the field after dark to celebrate. Although the ground was almost deserted by that stage, some remaining journalists claimed to have seen members of the squad relieving themselves on the wicket.
The claims were carried in The Sun, which quoted spinner Graeme Swann. He told the paper: "We did go out to the middle of the pitch, all the lads, drinking beers, singing a few songs and enjoying each other’s company. I think the call of nature might have come once or twice but it was nothing untoward.
"It was midnight, a private celebration in the middle of the pitch and the ground was dark."
However, the claims have prompted an ECB investigation and have attracted more criticism for the England team. Surrey chief executive Richard Gould said he would be "very disappointed" if players had peed on the wicket.
"Two years ago England delighted their travelling supporters by performing the Sprinkler disco dance on the outfield after becoming the first team to win the Ashes in Australia in a generation," says The Times. "This rather different sprinkling, witnessed by two Australian journalists who were still working in the Oval press box, was less charming."
The incident is just the latest to blight England this summer. "Despite the 3-0 result, they have been criticised for their perceived negativity, their perceived gamesmanship and their perceived limitations," writes George Dobell of Cricinfo.
"Reports that England players may have urinated on The Oval pitch after the game will serve not just to diminish the standing of the winning team, but deflect attention from Australia's lacklustre display. Australia may have lost the series, but they continue to win the propaganda war."
But it's not just England players in the dock after the series ended in bizarre circumstances on Sunday, as the umpires took the players off for bad light, with England 21 runs from victory and four overs remaining.
BBC correspondent Jonathan Agnew laid the blame for the anti-climactic ending, which drew boos from the crowd, at the door of the administrators. "Don't blame the umpires or the players, blame the ICC," he stated. "It's an absolute disgrace. An absolute shambles. The final day of the Ashes has ended in a farce."
Australia coach Darren Lehmann is another who has been forced to eat a slice of humble pie now that the series is over. Before the final Test he described England all-rounder Stuart Broad as a "cheat" after he refused to admit he had edged a ball to slip earlier in the summer.
Lehmann has now apologised, reports the Daily Telegraph. However, his calls for Australian fans to make Broad "cry" during the return series in Australia this winter have persuaded England to "increase their security presence" on the tour, with extra personnel likely to be added to the team's entourage. ·