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McCullum: Australia must accept Bairstow’s withdrawal.

Coach Brendon McCullum of England thinks the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow on the final day of the Lord’s Test would motivate his team to win the Ashes despite being down 0-2 for the first time since Don Bradman’s Australian squad in 1936–1937.

Despite Australia’s appeal, the third umpire ruled that the ball was not dead when Bairstow was stumped by Alex Carey off the final delivery of a Cameron Green over. Opinions were mixed on whether or not the dismissal violated the rules or the spirit of the game. During the lunch break, a few members of the MCC spoke with the away team. On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom joined the growing chorus of critics of the foreign tourists.

McCullum predicted that Australia’s “effect” would be felt, and that the series would have a ferocity that had been lacking through the previous two games.

“In the end, they made a play, they’ve got to live with that. We would have made a different play but that’s life. In time, we’ll see, but I get the feeling that it might have an effect on them,” said McCullum. “I don’t know if it’s anger, but our unit is galvanized. There are times as a coach where you’ve got to reduce emotion because it’s going to bubble over and you can make poor decisions, but there’s times when you allow emotion to go because it’s going to galvanize the unit.

“From our point of view, we believe that we can still come back in this series, and that’s where our focus has got to be. What I will say is it’s a galvanized unit up there and we saw the fight from the skipper, Broady [Stuart Broad] and the boys at the end there as well, which shows how much this means to the side. We’ll lick our wounds and try to come back and rectify things. That’s what I felt this emotion did for the side. I looked around the group and the guys were a little upset. If that helps us to win those key moments in the next Test, then I’m all for it. 3-2 has a nice ring to it.”

“In the end, Australia won the Test match and fair play to them. It’s just a shame that when you’ve got millions of people all around the world, and you’ve got a full house at Lord’s, and you’ve everyone’s eyeballs on this series, that for the next couple of days probably the most talked about aspect is going to be that [the dismissal] and that’s disappointing,” McCullum added.

McCullum himself has been accused of hypocrisy in the wake of the Test match after asserting that relations between the teams were strained and that he couldn’t fathom “having a beer” with the Australians in the near future. During his playing career, the former New Zealand cricketer infamously drove out Muttiah Muralitharan while he was out of his crease celebrating Kumar Sangakkara’s century.

Since then, the 41-year-old has cited this as a significant regret from his playing career, bringing it up again during his 2016 MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture at Lord’s. “When I was younger, I did not fully comprehend the significance of what the game and its ethos signified. Only with the advantage of time and experience were we able to learn and appreciate that. Time will tell, but I have a sense it may have an impact on [Australia].”

McCullum concurred with his captain, Ben Stokes, that despite the immensity of the challenge, being 0-2 against the reigning World Test Champions presented the greatest opportunity to win the series. “We always say that if we’re winning and everything is going well, you shouldn’t get too euphoric, and if we’re losing, you shouldn’t get too depressed. We are on the path to our desired destination and intend to stay on it. Because a) it’s enjoyable, and b) I believe it’s our greatest opportunity. Even though we are currently trailing 2-0, I believe this is our greatest opportunity to win the series.

“We’ve got to polish up a couple of the areas where the game has sat on a knife-edge and we haven’t been able to grab it. We knew coming into this series it was going to be tight and there was going to be those moments. If we can do that, there’s no reason why we can’t bounce back. Morale is high and we’ve played some good cricket amongst other things as well, and we look forward to the opportunity.”

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