Graham Thorpe's role as England assistant coach could be under threat, as the ECB launch an investigation into reports that he was smoking a cigar indoors prior to the police being called to the team hotel in Hobart.
England's embarrassing end to their latest Ashes campaign was exacerbated this week after an early morning drinking session at the Crowne Plaza hotel had to be broken up shortly after 6am. Initial reports suggested that complaints from fellow guests had led to the police intervention; however, it now appears that Thorpe's lighting of a cigar was the issue, with indoor smoking banned in Tasmania.
In mobile-phone footage published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Joe Root and James Anderson were seen alongside three Australia players - Nathan Lyon, Travis Head and Alex Carey - all still dressed in their whites following the late-night conclusion of the fifth Test at Bellerive Oval the previous evening.
In the footage of the incident, which appears to have been filmed by Thorpe himself, a female police officer can be heard saying to the group: "Too loud. You have obviously been asked to pack up, so we've been asked to come. Time for bed, thank you. They just want to pack up."
A police statement subsequently 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 6:00am, and left the area when asked. No further action will be taken by police."
In his voiceover from behind the camera, Thorpe can be heard saying, "We've got Nathan Lyon, Root, there's Carey and Anderson. I'll just video this for the lawyers. See you in the morning, everyone."
A spokesperson for the ECB said it would be investigating the incident, with the focus likely to be on how the footage made it into the public domain.
"During the early hours of Monday morning, members of the England and Australia men's teams shared a drink in the team areas of the hotel in Hobart," the ECB's statement read. "The hotel management received a noise complaint by a hotel guest, and as is commonplace in Australia, the local police attended the scene. When asked to leave by hotel management and the Tasmanian police, the players and management in question left and returned to their respective hotel rooms. The England party have apologised for any inconvenience caused.
"The ECB will investigate further. Until such times, we will make no further comment."
The incident heaps further ignominy on the England team in the wake of their 4-0 Ashes loss, amid reports that a drinking culture within the squad was a significant factor in the players' disappointing performances across the five Tests.
Ashley Giles, the ECB director of men's cricket, is due to compile a report into the circumstances of the tour, including recommendations for the future direction of the Test team. Root has already stated he wants to stay on as England captain, despite overseeing his second Ashes tour defeat in four years.
Thorpe's place within the England set-up may be in jeopardy, however, with England's players understood to be frustrated that a low-key social gathering at the end of a long tour has been allowed to escalate in such a fashion.
His input as a batting coach also paid few dividends in a series in which England failed to pass 300 in ten attempts and were bowled out for less than 200 on six occasions. In a sign of Thorpe's desire to move onto a new role, he was recently interviewed for the vacant head coach position at Middlesex.