England captain Joe Root has been accused of “blatant cheating” for claiming a dubious catch in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Former Australian quick Andy Bichel levelled the damning charge at Root after the latter claimed to have caught the Aussie saviour Marnus Labuschagne off the bowling of Jack Leach.
Labuschagne, the first concussion substitute in Test cricket history after Steve Smith was ruled out, scored 59 runs from 100 balls as the visitors salvaged a draw in the second game of the five-match series.
Labuschagne’s wicket was sent upstairs with a soft signal of out and numerous replays, which showed a small bounce into the hands, saw third umpire Joel Wilson confirm the decision to Aleem Dar.
Root and Labuschagne exchanged words after the wicket, with the former holding up his finger to signal out and the latter shaking his head as he trudged off.
“As a fielder, you know if your fingers are under the ball; I clearly felt that was the case,” Root said afterwards.
“I’m an honest guy, I am not going to try and cheat the game regardless of the situation.”
Yet Bichel told Macquarie Sports Radio that Root had done exactly that.
“It didn’t carry – you can see that,” said Bichel, who claimed 58 wickets in 19 Tests.
“It’s ricocheted off the player as well, so it’s bobbled a little bit to him. He knows he’s picked it up on the half-volley. It’s blatant cheating.
“To stand there and then all of a sudden give Marnus a bit of a send-off as well – ‘Mate, you’re out, get off here’ – when Marnus has seen the footage of it on the TV as well, that he’s not out and he shouldn’t be out. It was a real bizarre one from Joe, a man of that experience playing it out like it did.”
Bichel suggested that skipper Root, still 1-0 down in the series, was a man under pressure.
“You’d like to think that there was a real gentleman’s approach to that; just say, ‘Mate, I didn’t catch that’, and you don’t even go upstairs for it. It just didn’t happen,” Bichel said.
“A little low point for a man under pressure in Joe Root. He just hasn’t got any runs and now it’s just mounting on him day by day.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also passed his judgement on what the replays showed more than on Root’s act.
“That was NOT OUT !!”, he wrote on Twitter.
That was NOT OUT !!
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) August 18, 2019