Australia coach Justin Langer has defended his players’ boisterous celebrations after retaining the Ashes following claims they mocked England spin bowler Jack Leach.
Langer’s side clinched a dramatic fourth Test win over England in the last hour of Sunday’s final session at Old Trafford.
The victory gave Australia a 2-1 lead with just one match to play and they marked the occasion with a raucous on-field party.
At one stage, Australia’s star batsman Steve Smith was seen wearing and rubbing a pair of glasses before shadow batting left-handed in the middle of a team huddle.
Some fans and pundits came to the conclusion that Smith was unkindly parodying the glasses-wearing Leach.
Leach had helped England teammate Ben Stokes snatch a remarkable win in the third Test with a 76-run unbroken partnership, during which the spinner scored just one run.
But Langer is adamant Smith was mimicking Chris Rogers, who last played for Australia in 2015 and, like Leach, wears glasses when he bats.
“I was there, I know the truth, they were talking about Chris Rogers who was here four years ago,” Langer told reporters on Tuesday.
“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. People can make of it what they like but that’s the truth.”
As a member of one of Australia’s greatest Test teams in the 1990s and 2000s, Langer experienced many victory parties and he joked the current generation’s celebration was not especially impressive.
“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.
“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.”
England coach Trevor Bayliss also played down the controversy.
“Fake news, like Donald Trump says,” said Bayliss. “No one has mentioned it or spoken about it. It’s all talk from you guys (the media).”
Australia can clinch their first Test series win in England since 2001 if they avoid defeat in the last match, which starts at the Oval on Thursday.
The tourists are set to continue with David Warner at opener, even though he has only reached double figures once in eight innings.
“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,” Langer said.