Head coach Justin Langer rejected suggestions that Australia’s Ashes celebrations at Old Trafford targeted England’s Jack Leach for mockery, insisting the on-pitch party was a “two out 10” performance.
Victory in last week’s fourth Test handed the tourists an unbeatable 2-1 lead, guaranteeing the urn would be staying Down Under regardless of the outcome of this week’s Oval finale.
Songs were sung, beers drained and the occasional profanity uttered but what garnered most interest was Steve Smith’s decision to don a pair of glasses and imitate batting left-handed to the mirth of his team-mates.
That was read by onlookers as cheap shot at Leach, the tailender whose constant attention to his spectacles at the crease has made him a cult favourite among England fans.
Langer was unimpressed by that interpretation, standing behind the official version of events – that Smith was actually mimicking a former team-mate who was last seen on the Test stage in 2015.
“I was there, I know the truth, they were talking about Chris Rogers who was here four years ago,” said Langer.
“Chris Rogers is a great mate of the squad, that’s what it was about. People can make of it what they like. We can’t do anything of what people make of it.
“Experience tells me when you’re doing well people try and pick holes in you. That’s OK, that’s life.
“Everyone in this room, around the world, has seen the great spirit the World Cup and this series is played in. There’s been great spirit throughout. People can make of it what they like but that’s the truth.”
Langer also gave the squad a stingy grade for the intensity of their victory party, but may expect more if they finish the job by winning the series this week.
“That celebration was two out of 10 to some of the ones I have seen because we knew we had to play three days later,” he said.
“When you have a good day you have to celebrate it as long as you move on and get ready for the next one. We’ve said the whole time, I’ve said it since day one, we’re here to win the Ashes, so whilst the other day was a great experience, we have still go some business to do.
“There is a good feeling in the group, they know there is still unfinished business and we are looking forward to this last Test match.”
Australia will consider changes to their bowling group, who have had a heavy workload in the past two Tests, but look set to persist with the out-of-sorts David Warner at opener.
He has only registered double figures once in eight innings, routinely tormented by Stuart Broad, but will get another chance.
“Davey hasn’t had a great series, there’s no secret about that, but he’s also a great player,” said Langer.
“I’ve said throughout the whole series if Davey has one good series he’ll help us win the Ashes. He probably hasn’t been through this lean run before so it’s going to be a good test of his character.
“He’s been good for the crowds, he’s been good amongst the group. He hasn’t got the runs he’d like at the moment but I’m looking forward to it when he does. There’s no better place in the world to bat than The Oval. Looking forward to seeing him go well this week.”