x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Australian fans admit hotel prank

A cricket supporter group set off a fire alarm, forcing the English team out of their hotel in the early hours of the morning on the fourth Ashes Test.

An Australian supporter group has admitted setting off a fire alarm which forced the English team out of their hotel on the opening morning of the fourth Ashes Test, local reports said today. The England cricket team's hotel in Leeds was evacuated in the early hours of Friday following the fire alarm, forcing the players to stand outside in heavy rain for more than 20 minutes until the all-clear was given.

"Fanatics" leader Warren Livingstone told The Sunday Telegraph that one of the 100-strong group had set the alarm off with the aim of disrupting the English team's sleep, describing it as "good old-fashioned Aussie high-jinks". "Yes, it was one of our guys who did it as a bit of a prank. I got a text message after it happened," Livingstone told the Sydney newspaper. "At first I thought 'good on yer', we're just doing our bit for Australia. But I can't condone this sort of thing. I don't want any trouble. We've all had a big laugh and it might have made a difference, the way they batted."

English wicketkeeper Matt Prior blamed the incident for his team's batting collapse. Australia bowled out England for just 102 on Friday's opening day and are poised to wrap up victory to level the series at 1-1 ahead of the fifth and final Test at The Oval. A spokeswoman for the Radisson SAS Hotel in Leeds, northern England, refused to divulge what caused the fire alarm to go off but said it was "definitely not a prank".

British media reports conflict with the Fanatics' claims. They said the alarm may have been set off by another hotel guest, a woman who had rinsed her underwear in a bathroom sink and left it too close to a lightbulb to dry. * AFP