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'He's one of the biggest sledgers in the game'

Responding to Anderson labeling Australia 'bullies', Smith says the England quick has dished out his fair share of on-field barbs

Australia captain Steve Smith has hit back at the bullying accusations laid by James Anderson, saying the England veteran is "one of the biggest sledgers in the game". 

Smith was also made to clarify the source of his laughter as he sat next to Cameron Bancroft explaining the details of the headbutting incident with Jonny Bairtsow at the post-match press-conference in Brisbane, which England counterpart Joe Root did not find funny in the slightest.

Tensions flared on day four at the Gabba when it was revealed the hosts were sledging Bairstow about headbutting Bancroft in a Perth nightclub on the night the tourists landed on Australian shores. 

Bancroft, who made an unbeaten 82 in Australia's 10-wicket win in Brisbane, fronted the media and recounted in forensic detail how Bairstow greeted him with a headbutt, describing the gesture as "weird" and "random" but with no malicious intent.

Bancroft explains what happened with Bairstow

Sitting next to Bancroft was Smith, who could not contain himself at the bizarre but measured answers the Test debutant was delivering.

Writing in his column UK newspaper The Telegraph, Anderson said he was upset at how Smith reacted and labelled the Australians as 'bullies' for the timing of when they started sledging after three tight days of Test cricket.

"Australia were taking the mickey out of England after the first Test and it was infuriating to listen to and watch," Anderson wrote.

"But all it did was make us more determined to ensure we come here ready for a battle.

"A bully waits until they are in the ascendancy to pounce on people. That is what Australian teams do.

"They are quiet when they are not on top which was the case for the first three days of the Brisbane Test and then on day four they came alive."

Bairstow 'headbutt' drama will galvanise us: Anderson

Like he was for eight and a half hours batting at the Gabba, Smith was unfazed by Anderson's words and countered by saying the fiery swing bowler is one of cricket's best exponents of banter on the field.

"I read the article," Smith said. "I think it's interesting coming from Jimmy calling us bullies and big sledgers. 

"I think he's one of the biggest sledgers in the game to be perfectly honest with you. To me in particular. 

"I remember back in 2010 when I first started and (I) wasn't any good, he was pretty happy to get stuck into me then. Interesting coming from Jimmy."

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Root was unimpressed with Smith's reaction after play in Brisbane and hopes the Australia skipper's conduct will spur on his troops to bounce back after defeat in the opening Test.

"If that's not motivation to the players I don't know what is. Seriously," Root told reporters on the eve of the second Test at Adelaide Oval.

"Hopefully that will work massively in our favour.

"I know it's an Ashes series, there is a lot on the line and naturally you are going to be motivated.

"But, knowing the characters in our dressing room, that will really give them a bit of something else to make sure we put things right this week."

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Smith quashed any suggestion he was disrespecting the England camp, explaining how he was taken back by his Test teammate's recollection of the headbutting incident that included the Western Australian revealing he has the heaviest head in the Warriors' squad.

"I certainly wasn't mocking his (Root's) team," Smith said. 

"I was laughing at Cameron and the way he delivered the events of what had happened. I don't know Cameron that well yet, I haven't played a lot with him yet. 

"He was very dry and different in the way things came across. You guys (the media) got a good laugh out of it as much as I did.

"I'm happy to clarify with (Root), no problem there at all."

While sledging has already been a hot topic both on and off the field, Smith said the series has been played in the right spirit.

Smith was asked in today's press conference if he could "hand on heart say at the Gabba Test match nothing was said that he wouldn't want to be picked up on the stump microphones or even be happy for another team to direct at your players" to which Smith responded: "I think everything was fine. It was played in good spirit. 

"As I've said previously, there's a line there that we're not to cross. 

"I thought we played the game in good spirit, I've got no issues there. 

He added: "From my point of view it's about playing good hard aggressive cricket.

"I think we did that well at the Gabba and no doubt we'll continue to do that throughout the series."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21