The Ashes: Steve Smith mocks Jack Leach in ‘classless’ celebration
Aussies have since denied they were imitating the England spinner
2019 Ashes series: 5th Test
- When: 12-16 September
- Where: The Oval, London
- Daily start time: 11am (BST)
- Australia lead 2-1 in the series and have retained the Ashes
He may be the best batsman in the world but Steve Smith isn’t so high up the rankings when it comes to sporting behaviour.
Having been caught cheating last year in the infamous sandpaper ball tampering scandal, Smith celebrated Australia’s retention of the Ashes by appearing to mock Jack Leach in what The Sun calls a “classless” celebration.
According to the paper, just one of many to carry the story, the Australian players celebrated long into the night on Sunday.
Having outplayed England at Old Trafford to win the fourth Test and secure the Ashes, the Aussies were entitled to let their hair down in Manchester.
Players and staff returned to the pitch once the ground had emptied of spectators and Nathan Lyon let rip with “a foul-mouthed rant about the press”.
It was Lyon’s fumbled attempt to run out Leach that allowed England to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Headingley in the third Test, and the Aussie spinner appears to have taken his mistake too personally.
Smith, meanwhile, who sat out the third Test with concussion after being felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s, then stepped into the team huddle.
According to the Sun he “wiped a pair of glasses, put them on and shadow batted left-handed to much laughter from his pals”.
It looked very reminiscent of how Leach batted to help Ben Stokes score the winning runs at Headingley, but the Australians have since denied they were mocking the spinner.
However, it’s also widely reported that during their late-night party some of the tourists laughingly cried “no ball” and “come back Smithy”, references to Leach having dismissed Smith in the first innings with a no ball.
The Daily Telegraph says that the tourists’ explanation is Smith was imitating Chris Rogers, the former Australia opener who last played for his country four years ago.
“It seems an unlikely story,” says the Telegraph, “and will not endear Smith to English fans at the Oval this week”.
The paper also claims that the Aussies taunted England with one of their victory songs, the words to which were: “Who did we beat? England. How did we do it? Easy.”
Smith, whose runs have been the difference between the two sides, has silenced the English fans with his brilliance this summer.
He was subjected to a chorus of boos initially, on account of his year-long ban for ball tampering, but they have largely vanished.
But the Daily Mail writes: “Smith was already the pantomime villain for England fans but he has riled them even more.”