MATT Prior believes Australia have crossed the line in their verbal abuse of England players over an issue which has not been publicised for “various reasons”.

Australia captain Steve Smith insists his team have not overstepped the mark despite their players admitting to sledging the tourists during the opening Test of the Ashes.

But England bowler James Anderson has called the hosts “bullies”, and Prior, who played against Australia in two overseas’ tours, believes the sledging has become unsavoury.

“There’s a lot that has gone on that I think the England players are quite upset about,” former wicketkeeper Prior said.

“There has been a lot of chat on the pitch that hasn’t got anything to do with cricket and frankly should not be on a cricket pitch – stuff that hasn’t come out for various reasons.”

Later, the 35-year-old added: “You will always have people who come back to you and say you are whingeing, but it is not about whingeing.

“This is the Ashes and it is going to be hard. There will be sledging, there will be conversation and there will be chat, but there is a line that you cannot cross.

“There is an unwritten rule and as long as that is maintained then fine, but I am not sure it has.

“I am not there, so I can’t add detail, but you hear certain things and you hear what has been said and some of it is not right.”

Prior was speaking on the eve of the final day of a second Test which hangs in the balance following England’s remarkable comeback yesterday.

The visitors bowled Australia out for just 138, and following an unbeaten 67 by captain Joe Root, need 178 runs to level the series with six wickets still intact.

Prior added: “You can’t underestimate how big a morale-boosting win it would be for them.”