The Australian media's latest attempt to unsettle England's bid to retain the Ashes has been rebuffed by the England and Wales Cricket Board as coach Graham Gooch called on Alastair Cook's side to rise to the challenge in the second Test, which starts in Adelaide this week.
Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen and Jonnny Bairstow were pictured in Adelaide nightclub Zhivago in the early hours of Monday morning, and the local newspaper The Daily Telegraph claimed that their late-night outing four days before the Test could lead to a reprimand from coach Andy Flower. However, an ECB spokeswoman has confirmed that England's players had been given permission to go out following their delayed arrival in South Australia from their tour match in Alice Springs and that no disciplinary action would be taken.
"They are free to do as they please – they are grown men," said the spokeswoman. "There has been no breach of team protocol."
Broad and Pietersen were both targeted by the local media before the first Test in Brisbane, with the Courier-Mail refusing to mention the former by name throughout the match and suggesting the latter is unpopular with his England team-mates.
Neither featured in the drawn two-day match against a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI and had been given the day off before the first official practice session today at the Adelaide Oval. Matt Prior, Alastair Cook and Steven Finn were the only players to take up the option of an extra nets session as England attempt to recover from their crushing 381-run defeat at The Gabba.
Gooch, England's batting coach, has admitted that totals of 136 and 179 in Brisbane were well below par and they must improve – and fast – to stand any chance of turning the series back in their favour.
"Everyone's got to look at their game and how they can improve on their performance," he said.
"We hope our batsmen can give a better account – because unless you put a decent score on the board, you're not going to win five-day games."