Ashes 2017: The weirdest press conference ever? Cameron Bancroft on Jonny Bairstow incident - full transcript

The incident happened in Perth as Western Australia and England were in the same bar

Jonathan Liew
Brisbane
Monday 27 November 2017 08:05
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Ashes 2017: Cameron Bancroft explains Jonny Bairstow headbutt incident

The vast majority of cricket press conferences are, if we’re going to be totally honest, humdrum affairs, somewhere on the spectrum between total waste of time and near-death experience.

Every so often, though, you strike the sort of gold that makes all those interminable hours listening to reheated aphorisms about “focus”, “working hard”, “backing our skills” and “executing our plans” worthwhile. Such was the case with Cameron Bancroft’s press conference after Australia’s victory in the first Test at Brisbane.

Instead of being questioned about hitting the winning runs on his Test debut or his unbeaten knock of 82, a bemused Bancroft was given a detailed interrogation about his altercation with Jonny Bairstow in a Perth bar more than three weeks ago, during which Bairstow was alleged to have head-butted him.

With his captain Steve Smith sitting alongside him and barely able to keep a straight face, Bancroft was subjected to increasingly surreal questions about the finer points of the incident. And we’re willing to wager it’s certainly the first time Bancroft’s head size has come up in a recent press conference.

It’s a press conference worth reliving in full.

Q. Cameron, well done on the innings. But can you talk us through the incident, from what you remember? [Laughter.] I’ll just cut straight to it.

Bancroft: I remember it very clearly. We’d just won a [Sheffield] Shield game for WA [Western Australia]. One of our values is celebrating success, so we were, as a team and as a group. At the same, that coincided with the English team arriving in Perth for the tour game. It was very friendly mingling the whole night. Some of the players knew some of the English players, and as the night progressed, it was great to be able to meet some of those guys.

I got into a very amicable conversation with Jonny, and… yeah, like, he just, um, [chuckles] just greeted me with… just... a head-butt kind of thing. I was expecting a handshake. It wasn’t the greeting of choice that I was expecting. That was the way that I took it. There was certainly no malice in his action. And we continued on having a very good conversation for the rest of the evening.

Q. Did he apologise to you that night or subsequently?

Bancroft: At the time, he said sorry. For me personally, it was just... really weird. It was so random, and I certainly didn’t expect it coming. As I said, a handshake or a hug would have been something that I probably expected more than a headbutt. But as I said, there was certainly nothing malicious about his action. I just took it as: “Yeah, I don’t know Jonny Bairstow, but he says hello to people very differently to most others.” We got along for the rest of the night quite well. I’ve let it go and moved on from it. It was fine.

Q. Sorry, Cameron. I realise this probably sounds a bit ridiculous. Did he head-butt you like that [motions head-butt], forward? Or [motions glancing header to the side]? How did it… we can’t actually work out what…

Bancroft: Just… I dunno. Whatever your imagination pictures it as, is probably what it would be. I didn’t wake up…

Q. Because when we imagine a head-butt, we imagine… [motions head-butt] knocking someone over, you know?

Bancroft: No, he didn’t knock me over. I’ve actually got the heaviest head in the Western Australia squad. It’s been measured. There’s an actual measurement for it. So yeah, I just took the blow quite well and moved on from it. Yeah, it was a good hit. Play on.

Bancroft and Bairstow shook hands at the end of the match

Q. [England coach] Trevor Bayliss said that it was a long way from being a head-butt. He said there’s a head-butt, and there’s what happened to you. So could you perhaps define, maybe on a 1-10 basis [laughter] how close it was to a head-butt?

[Steve Smith is collapsing into giggles.]

Bancroft: He connected with… with my head. With a force that would make me think: “Wow, that’s a bit weird.” And that was it.

Q. Where was it? Was it the top of his head hitting you in the nose?

Bancroft: Well, head-butts clash with heads, and when he made the decision to do that, our heads collided.

Q. Whereabouts?

Cricket Australia Media Officer: I think we’ve clarified it now.

Q. No, not really. A headbutt, it can break your nose. It can put you in hospital. So where did the top of his head hit yours?

A. Yeah, it hit my head. Yeah. Hit me there. [Taps his forehead.] Forehead. There you go.

Cricket Australia Media Officer: Does anyone want to talk about the cricket?

Q. Steve, Joe Root said that it was convenient timing that this incident was brought up, the first day you had a good day in the field. What are your thoughts on that?

Smith: I think it was basically about trying to get Jonny off his game, to be honest with you. And I think it worked with the way he got out. He got caught at third man playing a pretty ordinary stroke, to be fair. So we were just trying to get in his head, and it happened to work.

Q. Cameron, you’ve made your Test debut for Australia. Is this how you envisaged your first press conference going? [Laughter.]

Bancroft: Uh, not really, no. But look, it’s all good humour, isn’t it? I’ll look back on this one day and it’ll be a dot in my life. We’ll live and learn and move on.

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