In Brief

Australia has no culture, says David Gower ahead of Ashes

Former England captain says Aussie players have 'animal mentality' and fans are 'feral'

DAVID GOWER has upped the ante ahead of this summer's Ashes series by describing Australia as a country with "no culture" and claiming its cricketers have an "animal mentality".

The former England skipper's comments came in an interview with the Radio Times, reports the Daily Mail, in which he warned that Australian fans were "feral" and suggested that the best way to deal with Aussie insults was simply to smile - or keep scoring runs, as England's batsmen have been tipped to do this summer.

Asked if the contest between the old enemies was a clash of cultures Gower, who captained England to Ashes success in 1985, said: "I'm tempted to say how can you have a clash of cultures when you're playing against a country with no culture? That would almost be sledging."

Turning his attention to the return series in Australia this winter he said: "If you're on the boundary you have to be very, very thick-skinned, because the Aussie crowd will try you with absolutely anything.

"The trouble is, if they've had ten cans of lager, their ability to come up with something akin to Oscar Wilde diminishes. A lot of it therefore tends to be very stereotypical. But it's feral; if they sense weakness, they'll come at you. "

The 54-year-old former batsman added: "It's the same with sledging on the field. There's a certain animal mentality, and if they sense a bit of weakness, they’ll try it on more. The great thing is just to smile, because the smile completely confuses them. But the best way to keep an Australian bowler quiet is simply to make runs. If you're 120 not out, they tend not to say much."

Metro notes that the current Australia side is regarded as the weakest for decades and although "Gower has been on the receiving end of enough beatings from the Aussies to remain cautious, he is confident of an English victory".

Gower said: "We've got every right to be optimistic, but no right to be overconfident."

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