Jonny Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow recently returned from a long injury lay-off Getty Images

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak heaped praise on England cricketer Jonny Bairstow for carrying an eco-activist off the pitch on Day 1 of the second Ashes Test on Wednesday.

Just before the start of the second over, five minutes into the game, the play was halted for a few minutes when two climate change protesters from the activist group Just Stop Oil invaded the pitch carrying orange powder paint. The two men ran from the Grandstand, past perimeter security and headed towards the playing surface. But the players were alert enough to help the security staff in preventing the protesters from reaching the strip.

Jonny Bairstow's heroics at Lord's

One protester was prevented from reaching the strip by a combination of England captain Ben Stokes and Australia's opening batter David Warner before being jumped on by stewards, while Bairstow carried the other protester, 21-year-old Daniel Knorr, on his shoulders and dropped him near the boundary line. The man was then taken away by police, while Bairstow received massive applause from the Lord's crowd.

Soon after that, MCC groundstaff swept up and blew off the powder paint that had spilled on the outfield, and Bairstow sprinted to the dressing room to change into a fresh set of whites.

He received massive praise from UK PM Sunak, who said the English wicketkeeper-batsman did a "heroic job" by stepping in on Wednesday.

"These Labour backed eco-zealots have disrupted one too many sporting events that Brits around the country look forward to every summer. Jonny Bairstow did a heroic job of stepping in to stop the Just Stop Oil intruders from causing further disruption to the cricket and we will ensure the police do the same on the streets of the UK and beyond," Mr. Sunak said.

Lee Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, posted a picture of Bairstow carting Oxford University student Knorr off the Lord's pitch and wrote: "Proper policing. That's how you deal with these lunatics."

Three protesters arrested

Talk TV presenter Piers Morgan shared a video of Bairstow's epic action and wrote, "Jonny putting the rubbish out."

At least three people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass. Earlier, a Just Stop Oil protester did similar stunts at the World Snooker Championships and the rugby Premiership final at Twickenham.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which owns Lord's, in North West London, blasted the activists.

"Their actions not only endanger themselves and those who work at the ground, but they have consistently shown complete disregard for the people who pay to attend events, not just here at Lord's but at other sporting venues," Guy Lavender, MCC's chief executive said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of Just Stop Oil gave out a statement on social media, along with a video of the incident, which clearly showed Bairstow carrying Knorr off the pitch.

Recently, police have been on the receiving end of criticism for not being able to do much while the activists carry out these disruptive protests. Earlier this month, laws were made stricter, allowing police to intervene earlier.

In terms of cricket, Australia dominated Day 1 of the Lord's Test on Thursday. While English bowlers struggled to take advantage of the good bowling conditions, the visitors raced to 339 for 5 at stumps. As many as three batters scored a half-century: Warner (66 off 88), Travis Head (77 off 73), and Steve Smith, who is still at the crease and has scored 85 off 149.

England pacer Josh Tongue, who replaced Moeen Ali for the second Test, removed Australia's openers, Warner and Usman Khawaja. Joe Root, who is England's primary spinner this game, delivered once again as he dismissed Head and Cameron Green, who failed to go off the mark. Ollie Robinson, who has been slammed by several former Aussie cricketers for his controversial behaviour in the first Test, dismissed Marnus Labuschagne.