ADELAIDE • Steve Smith returned fire yesterday after a taunt by James Anderson that Australia are bullies, calling the England paceman one of the biggest sledgers in cricket as insults flew ahead of the second Test.
The Australia captain also denied laughing at England over the Jonny Bairstow headbutt incident in what has become a fiery build-up to the first day-night Ashes Test, at the Adelaide Oval starting today.
Fast bowler Anderson called the Australian team "bullies" in a newspaper column as the tourists fume over the reaction to the Bairstow controversy, following their 10-wicket defeat in Brisbane.
The Australians used the incident, described by Cameron Bancroft as a "weird" greeting by Bairstow, to get under the wicket-keeper's skin as England collapsed in their second innings.
Anderson declared in his column: "A bully waits until they are in the ascendancy to pounce on people. That is what Australian teams do."
Smith did not hold back when asked for his response to England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker.
"I read the article. I think it's interesting coming from Jimmy calling us bullies and big sledgers," he told reporters.
"I think he's one of the biggest sledgers in the game to be perfectly honest with you."
Smith recounted times in his career when he was targeted by Anderson.
"I remember back in 2010 when I first started and wasn't any good, he was pretty happy to get stuck into me then," he said.
"Interesting coming from Jimmy."
Smith also said he was not mocking the England team when he laughed along as Bancroft recounted Bairstow's headbutt in a Perth bar earlier in the tour.
England skipper Joe Root yesterday said he was "very disappointed" at Smith's reaction.
"I certainly wasn't mocking his team. I was laughing at Cameron and the way he delivered the events of what had happened," Smith said.
"I'm happy to clarify that with Joe Root, no problem there at all."
2ND ASHES TEST
Day 1: Singtel TV Ch124 & StarHub Ch237, 11.30am