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England's late-night antics bring Morris headache

David Hopps

August 26, 2013

Comments: 63 | Text size: A | A

Alastair Cook kisses the Ashes urn, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
England's players began in choreographed fashion before becoming more unpredictable as the night wore on © PA Photos
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Officialdom beamed down on England after their third successive Ashes victory but the ECB hierarchy might feel obliged to take a more dim view of an alleged late-night celebration which ended with them urinating on The Oval pitch on which they had completed their triumph only hours before.

Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, has had matters of rather more import to deal with, but it will invite a troubled shrug nonetheless on a day when it has been confirmed that he is resigning to take up the vacant chief executive's role at Glamorgan.

It will be dismissed as a supreme irrelevance by many - it is quite a trek from the Oval square to the nearest toilets - but it is bound to be viewed as distasteful in other quarters and presented as an example of the laddish culture which pervades English society.

Australian cricket journalists were still at The Oval, completing dead-of-night tour pieces with the help of free beer and sandwiches from the ECB, when they reported seeing several England players take it turns to relieve themselves on the pitch. It is not known how much they relieved themselves but reportedly there was more than enough to fill an Ashes urn.

It was enough for Ben Horne of AAP to term it a "distasteful finale" and report that "cleaning staff and other game day workers were still present at the ground."

Malcolm Conn, chief cricket writer for News Limited, described the ground as "quite dark" and said that players were "gathered near the pitch celebrating and yahooing".

England's celebrations had begun in a more carefully choreographed manner, with the obligatory fireworks and champagne at the awards ceremony and players holding their children in their arms as they strolled around the outfield shaking hands with the crowd.

They then returned to the dressing room with a quiet celebration with their families before the players themselves moved to the centre of the Oval to continue what their captain, Alastair Cook, had described as a deserved few beers, chatting among themselves and cherishing privately what they had achieved.

Uninhibited post-series celebrations are regarded as part and parcel of professional team sport in England, a final restatement of team morale and a release from the strict professionalism, with few opportunities for downtime, which is now the lot of an England cricketer.

But judging by reports from Australian journalists, who arguably represent more dangerous opponents to England than their team, England's players, who are well practiced in zipping up their mouths in an era of cautious media comments, may now have to receive training in zipping up their trousers.

Morris' first task will be to ascertain whether England's behaviour carried any deeper significance other than the urge to relieve themselves. Certainly England's weak bladders provided final justification for all those toilet breaks, but were there other more worrying explanations?

Was it an indication of what England's players think of the dry surfaces on which they have won the Ashes series - surfaces which suited them but which often demanded laborious cricket? Australians scoffed that this was the first watering England's Test pitches had had for months.

Were they paying homage in a strange fashion to the antics of Monty Panesar, whose place in England's Ashes squad for the return series is in jeopardy because he urinated from on high on a Brighton nightclub bouncer?

Or were they simply marking out their territory after dismissing Australia 3-0 in the five-Test series? It is common in cats, especially male cats. Neutering is often proposed as a solution.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by AbbasFaisal on (August 29, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Why isn't this being investigated by the ICC or the ECB. And if the players are found guilty of doing what they are alleged of, they should be punished. One just can't let go such stupidity and disrespect. This is just total non sense.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

It sounds like a nice tribute to Monty.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2013, 9:38 GMT)

Did they wee on the pitch or the ground? On the pitch then they should serve bans. On the outfiled not fussed...

Posted by unbiased_referee on (August 28, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

True to form, this is ironical, as Cricket supposedly is England's "national" sport. This more than "laddish" behaviour on the part of England Cricketers can simply not be played down by issuing rhetorical statements on part of officials. Literally they may be simply there, but they have shown how "high-school-kid-like" some Eng cricketers metaphorically are!!!

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 17:40 GMT)

I guess, one had a "Gotta go" and after that it was pure peer pressure.....

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (August 27, 2013, 16:12 GMT)

Im now expecting variable bounce on a good length for the next Surrey home match.

Posted by baranasai on (August 27, 2013, 16:10 GMT)

The People who show humbleness and lovable smile carry themselves as lovable sports men Look for eg Nadal Federer etc whether they loose or gain they conduct themselves in an utmost professional way. England are worthy winners by a mile and they would have gained much more respect if they have quietly celebrated without disrespect to the opponents-it would have been highly appreciated. They simply blew the chance and got the bad boy name now .The aussie media will be high lighting this for ever. Common England you don't need to go into footballers route

Posted by londondoc on (August 27, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

Disgusting and disgraeceful. I was at the Oval and saw Swann having a go at a 12 year old kid for not saying ' please' while asking for an autograph- although the kid had said it and Swann couldnt hear it. Swann then broke into a lecture about how manners were so important. Maybe he needs to give his mates a crash course in manners before preaching to the general public

Posted by Showbags88 on (August 27, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

It's funny how England called us bad winners when we won nonstop for 20 years. Well they have taken the notion of bad, arrogant winners to a new level. Most of us remember the sprinkler antics after the 2011 series. They have no class whatsoever and are full of their own self importance. All I can say is pride comes before a fall.

Posted by cloudmess on (August 27, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

In 2005 Ashes, the Aussies trashed the England dressing-room after their Lord's victory, pouring beers over lockers and kits. Read Justin Langer's autobiography, it's all in there. I'd say that's a little more disrespectful than weeing behind a sightscreen - but really did anyone care then either? Australia media, get off your high horse, accept the best team won and stop finding pathetic, straw-clutching ways to denigrate England.

Posted by gahapanmachan on (August 27, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

If it got to go it got to go. Hope Broad applies the same when batting & nicking.

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Who cares? We've come to the end of the summer music festival season, events where people habitually urinate in the open. As with festivals, one couldn't be done for public urination as the Oval is not a public location. One doesn't recall Paula Radcliffe getting pulled over by the rozzers when she went far more publicly than anything the England chaps did. It's comedy for the Australian writers, nothing more.

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

Clarke rules out pitch doctoring in Australia - CricInfo Headline

One wonders what he might have had in mind! This incident has throwbacks to the summary sacking of great 1890s Yorkshire and England slow left arm bowler Bobby Peel by Yorkshire's autocrat captain Lord Hawke for a similar incident. In fact revisionist history indicates this never actually happened and that Peel, who was a big drinker, rather left the club by mutual agreement, as the saying goes, for drink-related matters like unpunctuality and being unfit to start a match.

Posted by KingOwl on (August 27, 2013, 8:26 GMT)

The last few paragraphs are quite funny. I think the Aus journos are sore losers. What the heck, these guys had a few beers, the toilets were far away and they did it on the pitch, late at night. If the Aussie journalists decided to spy on these antics, it's their problem. Let's move on.

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

Brings to mind the famous incident involving another England player in another match; Bobby Peel of bygone years,the alcoholic bowling genius, watering the pitch while the match was in play and in the presence of his scandalized captain. He never played for England again.

Posted by Chris_P on (August 27, 2013, 5:23 GMT)

I guess the lads didn't think the pitch was dead enough?....And how is this worthy of "news"?

Posted by Narayan.Shastri on (August 27, 2013, 5:16 GMT)

If this incident is really true, it is a great insult to the game, the London Oval, the UK as a whole and themselves. The England and Wales Cricket Board should take severe disciplinary action agains these people.

Posted by Cricket316 on (August 27, 2013, 5:01 GMT)

A really disgraceful act on part of the Englishmen. I'm really baffled by some of the comments here on stating "Its not a big deal". Urinating on the pitch,the very place where you earn fame,money and build your career. Its not about disrespecting the opposition, but Its the ultimate disrespect to the game. By these actions, they've only shown their Unprofessionalism, and Childish behavior. Really Pathetic. If this was done by any other team, the Brit Media would've bashed them recklessly. Win or lose,Just imagine if Australia(or any other Asian team) did this on England soil,we would hear a different tune from those stating its "Ok to urinate,as they were drunk or its a tradition".I'm not surprised that we still haven't heard much from the England Cricket Administrators,thats what I expected. ICC need to look into this and make an Example out of it.

Posted by JohnnyRook on (August 27, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

Some comments here are really strange. While it was indeed very stupid and uncalled for, I don't think they have done anything to deserve punishment. I see it as a drunk over the top party after a series was won. They didn't show any disrespect to opponent because opponent was not there. Without a few media people who were there so late (surprizingly), this wouldn't even have become public knowledge. I think in today's world, players get scrutinized just too much. I am sure Dennis Lillee and Ian Botham would have done this atleast once in their career. PS: I am not an England fan in any way.

Posted by cricketforpeace on (August 27, 2013, 4:29 GMT)

Yes, indeed, no body was injured and nothing major happened. However, the point that is missed by those who condone such behavior is that nothing seems to be sacrosanct any longer. I am under the impression that the cricket pitch is something sacred for all those who play and for all those millions who watch and enjoy this wonderful game. Certainly, something somewhere is amiss. The closest similarity that I can find to this distasteful episode is of a student who pees on the desk in the classroom - a place where he learns his lessons and which is the source of his progress ultimately. And for all those who find this episode just funny, they should remember that it is these same cricketers who are considered role models and something that the youth should emulate. Today it is only a harmless pee on the cricket pitch, tomorrow??

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 27, 2013, 2:09 GMT)

Some people really are going over the top here. I agree that this is a fairly crass act but let's not get carried away. Some people are comparing this to their urinating in their own workplace. Those people presumably work in an office so it's hardly the same thing as peeing on a cricket pitch. Some are comparing this to Monty Panesar's recent act. He purposely urinated on people. These guys just peed on the ground. Some are comparing it to Darren Lehmann calling Broad a cheat on a radio show. These guys did it in the dark when they thought noone was watching. "urinating on a cricket pitch is as good as spitting on your boss who gives you salary". Really? Really!? It's just the England-haters hating. If this had happened while the pitch was still in use then it would be an issue or if it was done in view of the public but, as it is, it's crass but it should not really be of any concern to anyone else.

Posted by sarirazee on (August 27, 2013, 0:48 GMT)

I can read just low profile news. It is indeed a BIG DEAL and very serious. Whilst it has emerged as major news all over the world in cricket playing countries I would expect Cricinfo to give it well deserved coverage.

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 0:31 GMT)

this is absolutely ridiculous, the whole team should be condemned. I dont know why the author found it "humorous", if u can call it that

Posted by dilscoop_uk on (August 27, 2013, 0:22 GMT)

that is absolutely disgusting knowing the fact that there are about a dozens Pubs /clubs within 5 min walk why did they chose the pitch?? i hate poms now and regretting why i kept supporting them during the ashes . They dont deserve the urn . Also their pathetic negative cricket slow over rate and slow runrate sums up their approach to the game.

Posted by TengaZool on (August 26, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

Not the best display of behaviour by the English - but as to how bad it actually was depends on the cultural lens through which you view the incident. Some cultures are known to respect their place of work and religiously clean, pray and bow before and after starting work. The English - probably not so much but they are indeed building a reputation of public urination. Monty now has a solid case of claiming a ticket back to the Test team.

Posted by harshadphadke on (August 26, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

I think they should be punished match fees or ban or whatever.Its a simple case of whats wrong is wrong and whats unacceptable is unacceptable.My question is would they have got away had they done something like this @ Lord's??

Posted by akpy on (August 26, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

it will be interesting to see how the pitch behaves...does it spin/bounce/seam/speed more, etc? Teams may start using it tactically if results emerge

Posted by Rahulbose on (August 26, 2013, 20:54 GMT)

Hard to believe this is true. Eng camp puts so much focus on character and representing the team. But then you get news like this and the incident with Panesar.

Posted by silly_mid_on on (August 26, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

I consider it to be an incident that brings the game into disrepute. I believe it should be investigated and punished.

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

So much hyperbole. Not showing respect to the opposition? What? Seriously? I suppose punching the opposition's opening batsman is though, eh?

Posted by MrGarreth on (August 26, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

There always seems to be hypocrisy in English cricket and I guarantee you if SA had done this after they had beaten England in England, they would've been calling for blood. But as I say it's the same hypocrisy that complains when the light goes against them

Posted by 2929paul on (August 26, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

When you consider some of the antics the players (allegedly) got up to in years gone by this is no more than a drop in the Oval. However in these days of massive media intrusion it was bound to be reported and, quite apart from being pretty disgusting anti-social behaviour, is pretty naive too. In the circumstances, if it's true, the ECB will have to make examples of them. Fines, I guess. Dropping them would probably be no punishment as it would just mean a badly needed rest from the upcoming ODIs!!

Posted by cricket-is-best on (August 26, 2013, 17:03 GMT)

Disgusting! Shameful. even more shameful is the way some are trying to defend this act.

Posted by Guernica on (August 26, 2013, 16:09 GMT)

Some very over the top comments. If this is true, I fail to see how it is disrespectful to the opposition, or 'arrogant'? You've had a few drinks in the middle and you need a pee. The crowd went home two hours ago, so you think you'll maybe take a sneaky one behind the site screen instead of going all the way to the toilets. From some of the comments you would think the whole team took it in turns to take a piss over the Aussie team's kit.

Posted by Fireballz on (August 26, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

Why is this news? Absolutely nothing wrong with it in my eyes. Nobody was harmed, no innocence was lost, nobody bar the England players were within 100m of it... From an Australian

Posted by heathrf1974 on (August 26, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

I'm not too worried. This is should be handled internally with the player's involved leadership aspirations within the team put into question.

Posted by elifant on (August 26, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

The story sounded so outlandish that I initially thought this was an April Fool's tale, which it obviously isn't. I guess this just reinforces the fact that being exceptional at sport does not mean that players will be average or even normal in their personal conduct as well. It would be interesting to see how the authorities handle this situation.

Posted by MikesSpinOnCricket on (August 26, 2013, 13:24 GMT)

I was at The Oval on Friday and if I can make my way from my seat in a crowded stand to the loos in two minutes, I'm sure that highly paid athletes could get there from the square in the same time. Pathetic. Don't blame 'society'; these players are role models and, if this story is true, they should be heavily fined or face a ban by the ECB, not ICC.

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 11:46 GMT)

I'm appalled to read this. I know some of the players have been behaving childishly, but this is the lowest of the low. ICC should send a strong message and suspend every one involved for at least two matches.However, personally I think ICC is a shallow organization which will do nothing if a team (say England, Australia and of late India) does something like this, but if Bangaladesh, Zimbabwe or Pakistan had done this, heads might have been rolled by now. If ICC has some bone, I want to see some action. This should not be just an "oh the boys were just relieving themselves" None sense, it is time for some gutsy action by ICC. By the way Team England "SHAME ON YOU"

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 26, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

People should remember that there is no proof at the moment that this happened, if proof does come to light then it needs to be shown to the relevant authorities.

Posted by Oldpunk on (August 26, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

@ Brownly - you would probably get reported to the police as well, and dealt with in the criminal courts.

This incident ( assuming it actually happened) is detrimental to the game. But I am more concerned by the "win at all costs" mentality that is now entrenched in English cricket. The ECB and the ICC need to take a good look at themselves. This was a boring series, played on cooked pitches, with poor umpiring. Throw in all the background chat re the Walkabout bar, ball tampering, time wasting, cheating, walking/not walking, urinating in public etc. etc. and you have to conclude Cricket is shooting itself in the foot.

Posted by salazar555 on (August 26, 2013, 11:37 GMT)

big deal, late at night and toilets miles away, are you telling me no one here has ever taken a wee in a bush? Get off your high horse

Posted by skilebow on (August 26, 2013, 11:37 GMT)

I think some people are rather pathetically going over the top. Probably more so because its England. Have you never been caught short and had to relive yourself somewhere other than a toilet. Now granted the players involved should be a little ashamed of themselves this morning but some of the comments reflect as badly on the people who have written "Never ever in my wildest imagination thought a team can stoop to this level" I mean come on! You need to get out more! "urinating on a cricket pitch is as good as spitting on your boss who gives you salary." What an stupid statement. The simple reply to which is "no, its not"

Posted by Bodders70 on (August 26, 2013, 11:26 GMT)

Well, beats the garden of no.10 Downing Street where it allegedly happened in 2005... Time for lots of faux outrage and disgust no doubt. However, as David Hopps alludes to if you go to any town in the UK on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll see drunk men and women relieving themselves in the street. No doubt there'll be some fines but this is a societal problem and it's difficult to be too judgemental until the English disease of hard drinking and celebrating drunkenness is cured. How to do that will vex Governments for years.

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

Disgrace. any player involved should be suspended bybthe icc for at least a test. maybe more.

Posted by liaqathussain on (August 26, 2013, 11:11 GMT)

If its real this is disgraceful,

And to over do a series , its just a test series that you play ever 18 months or so,

Its not the world cup,

i feel ashamed for being a English supporter at the moment

Posted by threeslipsandagully on (August 26, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

The Panesar comparison is completely irrelevant, this was harmless. They were having a drink on the square and anyone who's been to the Oval knows it's a long way from the middle to the toilets. A non-story.

Posted by JohnSM on (August 26, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

Ah come on! Just harmless fun.. nobody was hurt. Nothing major happened. Just piss on the ground. No big deal really.

Posted by hussyboy81 on (August 26, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

for all those who are saying that this should not be a STORY; well, hats off to your naivity... urinating on a cricket pitch is as good as spitting on your boss who gives you salary... the English may be the best on the field while playing.. but their behavior off-it has been worse in many years... first the Broad incident, then the whinging over the bad light and now this.. if Lehmann has been fined for something he said, these guys should be Banned for something as disgraceful as this...

Posted by JohnOfCourse on (August 26, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Where is the evidence that any England player urinated on the pitch. Aus media clutching at straws or diverting attention from the final score perhaps.Assertions made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Defining moment of the series, Michael Clarke pleading with the umpires to leave the field to avoid 4-0 defeat.

Yes England were extremely fortunate to win the series, if this DRS or that inside edge hand'nt or Bla Bla Bla

Posted by Brownly on (August 26, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

If I urinated on my workplace I'd get the sack. And I wouldn't even get reported by the international media for it.

Posted by squidhead on (August 26, 2013, 10:41 GMT)

It's not for me to judge the England players but I have to say I'd be completely mortified if players from my team did that, no matter what the scoreline was. Sure, it's no longer a gentleman's game, but it's not as if we're animals. I don't get how this is just being laughed off as if it's nothing.

Posted by Sunman81 on (August 26, 2013, 10:33 GMT)

Recently Monty lost his county contract due to a similar act. In this context, it would be interesting to see how the ECB reacts to this allegations.

Posted by JoieDeVivre on (August 26, 2013, 9:59 GMT)

When I first read this, the first reaction I had was how disgraceful. Goes to show rude and arrogant this team is. Even the Aussies, when at the peak of their game were slaughtering the opposition never ever indulged in such acts. Now I fully understand what Shane Warne was saying few days back, how can a team of professionals indulge in such acts is simply beyond me. ICC fined Lehman recently for calling an opposition player a cheat and if ICC is a genuine gate keeper of this great game, players (including captain and coach) who were involved in this should be not just penalised but also banned for at least 2 Test Matches. Quite frankly after reading this, all the respect I had as a neutral fan for this England team is lost. Never ever in my wildest imagination thought a team can stoop to this level.

Posted by smalishah84 on (August 26, 2013, 9:47 GMT)

There might be some truth to the versions of rumors alleging pitch doctoring ;)

Posted by daddyankey on (August 26, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

I am no fan of the Poms.. But, the Aussie reports appear more as a case of sour grapes.. The English players should not have been allowed on the pitch in the very first case, but I fail to understand why such things are being made hoopla of. It is nothing more than trying to hype up the return leg of the Ashes....

Posted by gsingh7 on (August 26, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

shameful acts and not showing any class in a win. still remember when australia defeated england 5-0 in 2006 , they never shown disrespect to then england team. hope that all culprits be fined and banned by ECB for few tests. they are supposed to be role models but it seems they have followed minty's lead in soiling themselves.

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

Shameful shameful shameful. These guys pee on the place from where they got honor, fame, money and respect. What a way to show the respect.

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

ahhhh cricket, the gentlemen's game...

Posted by Shivang_sen on (August 26, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

Utterly disgraceful and shameful act if this is true. I thought spitting on ground is the most disgustful activity but this one really sounds astonishing. Have some respect for the place where you practice your profession which has given you stardom, fame, et al.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (August 26, 2013, 9:10 GMT)

This is news how? Must have been a slow day at the office.

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 9:08 GMT)

Is this really a story? Who cares?

Posted by   on (August 26, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

If true, I would expect hefty punishments to be meted out to all involved. There is no place for this behaviour from people who are supposed to be role models.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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