Assistant coach broke law in Tasmania by smoking indoors
Police called to 6am drinking session involving both teams
Graham Thorpe, England’s assistant coach, could be the first Ashes casualty after an early-hours drinking session with players from both teams in which he smoked a cigar inside the team hotel and triggered the arrival of the Tasmanian police.
Thorpe, 52, was the subject of a complaint at the Crowne Plaza in Hobart at 6am on Monday. It came to light only after he filmed four police officers shutting down a post-series social with Joe Root, the England captain, and Jimmy Anderson, as well as Australia’s Nathan Lyon, Alex Carey and Travis Head.
The footage shot by Thorpe then somehow reached the website of the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday. In it an officer is heard telling the group: “Too loud. You have obviously been asked to pack up, so we’ve been asked to come. Time for bed. Thank you. [The hotel staff] just want to pack up.”
When the footage became public it was initially described as the result of a complaint about noise from someone outside the hotel. The Guardian has since learned from separate sources, however, it was in fact a direct consequence of Thorpe deciding to smoke a cigar inside the building, which is against the law in Tasmania.
The group of late drinkers had returned to the outdoor terrace at the rear of the hotel when the police turned up and accepted it was time to go to bed without any fuss. However, as this occurred Thorpe was filming the events on his mobile phone, naming four of the five players present while doing so – missing out Head’s name – and saying he was doing so “for the lawyers”.
A statement from Tasmania police read: “Tasmania Police attended the Crowne Plaza Hobart on Monday morning after reports were made of intoxicated people in a function area. The guests were spoken to by police, just after 6am and left the area when asked. No further action will be taken by police.”
Though under significant pressure after the 4-0 series defeat, the England management are sanguine about players staying up so late given the 10pm finish to the day-night fifth Test and the various presentations and media commitments that followed. After a long, chastening series the need to unwind was understandable.
Post-series drinks, where the two teams finally mix freely and share stories, are also a longstanding Ashes tradition and these took place in the dressing rooms at Bellerive Oval. The players and coaches were then bussed back to their shared hotel in Hobart city centre at around 2.30am when the ground shut.
However, there is anger at Thorpe for triggering the police intervention during the early hours when the final stragglers – including former club cricket teammates Root and Lyon – were finishing up. England are now looking into why he then seemingly shared the footage with a third party, something which resulted in its publication by a local media outlet 24 hours later.
Coming after a heavy series defeat, and with Root, the captain, Chris Silverwood, the head coach, and Ashley Giles, the director of cricket, battling to save their jobs following a campaign riddled with strategic errors, the incident could scarcely be timed worse in terms of perception.
An England spokesperson “apologised for any inconvenience caused” and confirmed the incident would be investigated further, while Cricket Australia declined to comment publicly.
A number of England players, too, are understood to be upset with Thorpe for seeing an enjoyable time with their opponents – their first catch-up after a one-sided series that witnessed none of the past animosity that has existed between the two teams – end on a sour note and a drinking culture questioned.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, after the events took place but before the story broke, Pat Cummins, the Australia captain, said: “Caught up with the English side for a couple of beers, just back at the hotel. It was a pretty hard-fought series between both teams. It’s always good to catch up after that.”
Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, has been in Hobart over the past week and is awaiting a report by Giles into the failed tour. Among the questions being posed by this review is whether drinking – particularly among Silverwood’s backroom staff – went too far during the course of the trip.
Thorpe, the former England batter who won 100 Test caps, has recently been interviewed for the vacant first-team coach role at Middlesex and so appears to be looking for a way out of the job. After five Tests in which the players failed with the bat he was already facing internal scrutiny and this incident involving the police could now expedite his departure from the international setup.
The early finish to the Test match has seen the majority of England’s touring party forced to remain in Hobart while waiting for their scheduled flights home on Wednesday. As well as being forced to socialise outside in public places due to Covid-19 restrictions, they remain subject to a midnight curfew.
Australia’s players continued their Ashes-winning celebrations at various pubs in Hobart throughout Monday before returning to their states the following day.