As Australia's One-Day cricket team begin their tour of England in the aftermath of the ball tampering scandal that rocked the sport last March, they got a taste of what to expect from an exuberant Sussex crowd in their first tour game yesterday.
The scandal, which began with an observant cameraman noticing a suspicious item being hidden down Cameron Bancroft's pants, was to quickly escalate into a sensational affair which shamed a nation and led to a blitz of resignations and suspensions in Australian cricket.
The Barmy Army must have been rubbing its collective hands in glee as the Aussie's first tour after the shameful affair happens to be on England's welcoming shores.
They have adopted a costume of wearing Aussie shirts with sandpaper affixed to it and hilariously were seen asking New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor to sign a piece of sandpaper during their recent series against the Black Caps.
The taunts directed at the tourists in the wake of the sandpaper saga are likely to be unrelenting, but it seems the Australian players are not just going to meekly take the good-natured abuse on the chin without hitting back with some banter of their own.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon showed that the men in the Baggy Green would not take the barbs lying down as he came up with a quite brilliant rejoinder to the baiting of a sun-drenched Sussex crowd.
As reported by Fox and The Metro, while walking behind the rope as the 12th man, Lyon was on the receiving end of their heckles when fans asked him if he had sandpaper in his pockets. Quick as a flash the bowler, who is something of a cult hero amongst Aussie fans, was heard to cheekily reply: “Nah mate, just the Ashes.”
A superb response from the bowler but it didn't subdue a crowd determined to remind the tourists of their recent trauma by chanting 'if you like sandpaper, clap your hands' relentlessly during the last ten overs of the match.
The Australians are sure to become accustomed to sandpaper related quips over the next few weeks and batsman Marcus Stoinis, who scored 110 runs in the warm-up fixture, had no issues with the crowd's behaviour.
“The banter was pretty good, you could hear them singing,” he said.
“It’s all in good spirits, and the boys on the boundary said it was good too. It’s only what you’d expect.”