The Ashes dominated by chants: 'Always cheating, same old Aussies'

Author
news.com.au,
Section
Cricket,
Publish Date
Sunday, 4 August 2019, 4:33PM
Australia's Steven Smith, left, and Travis Head leave field after bad light stops play for the day during day three of the first Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia. (Photo / AP)
Australia's Steven Smith, left, and Travis Head leave field after bad light stops play for the day during day three of the first Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia. (Photo / AP)

What do Donald Trump, the Cookie Monster and England's 1966 World Cup-winning football team have in common?

They were all at Edgbaston for day three of the first Ashes Test.

So too were superheroes, construction workers, carrots and bananas.

Maybe not literally — though we're sure at least some fans packed a bit of fruit in their hamper to take to the ground — but people impersonating those things sure were.

Punters were encouraged to rock up to the Saturday of the Edgbaston Test in fancy dress and everyone who joined the party was sat in the Hollies Stand — the part of the ground renowned for being the loudest and loosest piece of real estate in the joint.

Could you hear chants and songs echoing through your TV or radio? They were coming from the Hollies Stand. Did you see someone wearing their jocks outside their pants rather than underneath? Yep, they were in the Hollies stand too.

It can be an intimidating sight for visiting teams — though not if you listen to Tim Paine — but David Warner decided laughter was the best medicine when he was ordered to patrol the boundary in front of well-lubricated fans determined to make their own fun.

"He's got sandpaper in his hands," they sang to the tune of He's Got the Whole World in His Hands when Warner slipped his hands into his pockets while waiting for the next ball to be bowled.

Smiling, Warner generously offered to prove his innocence, taking his hands out of his pockets and showing supporters his empty palms.

England's Jonny Bairstow, left, Ben Stokes, second left, Australia's Steven Smith and England's Jos Buttler, right, leave field after bad light stops play. Photo / AP

England's Jonny Bairstow, left, Ben Stokes, second left, Australia's Steven Smith and England's Jos Buttler, right, leave field after bad light stops play. Photo / AP

But it wasn't enough for some and the chants continued. "Always cheating, same old Aussies," rang out in the afternoon as the wounds of the ball tampering scandal remained very much front of mind for England cricket lovers.

While some of the booing of Steve Smith and Warner this northern hemisphere summer has bordered on vicious, Saturday's gibes were all in jest.

Watching Test cricket in England can conjure up images of softly spoken members wearing cream coats and chinos in the Lord's pavilion but the Hollies stand was — as it always is — at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Splashes of colour were impossible to miss as deep reds, fluoro yellows and eye-catching purples were scattered around the seats.

In the final session, that 1966 England World Cup team — dressed in the same white shorts, red jerseys and red socks worn by the only English players to ever win football's most prestigious prize — went for a lap around their bay where that prize was waiting for them.

A member of the group dressed in gold — acting as the trophy — was hoisted onto shoulders and paraded around proudly as roars of approval and fits of laughter broke out.

When Smith stepped up to the bowling crease earlier in the day the construction workers wearing high-vis vests and hard hats got to work, making the sandpaper connection clear and beach balls were bandied about all day.

There was also plenty of friendly banter with a large Australian tour group seated under the Edgbaston media centre, next to the Hollies Stand. Songs about Britannia ruling the world and predictions of a landslide win emanated loudly as throats threatened to go hoarse, but never did.

Even as the rain tumbled down after stumps was called and other sections of the ground emptied in a hurry, still the Hollies Stand was full of life as fans refused to leave and kept on singing.

The action on the field may not always have been as vibrant as what was transpiring beyond the boundary rope but there was plenty for both sets of spectators to get excited about. Australia ripped through England's middle order in the first session before the Poms fought back through a 65-run, ninth wicket partnership between Stuart broad (29) and Chris Woakes (37 not out).

The home side was eventually bowled out for 374, giving it a lead of 90 runs over the Aussies in the first innings. It looked like it would be plenty when Warner and Cameron Bancroft both departed for single digits and the Hollies Stand was rocking at the fall of each wicket.

But then something strange happened. The Hollies Stand went quiet, for what seemed like the first time of the day. And it had Smith and Usman Khawaja to blame.

While silencing the fans probably wasn't the main aim of the visiting batsmen, it was a positive consequence of putting on a brisk 48-run partnership as both men counter-attacked.

Smith was 19 off 23 balls and Khawaja motored to 40 from 47 deliveries before the next one brought him undone — a corker from Ben Stokes that nipped back off the seam and caught the inside edge before being snaffled by Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.

The silence was broken and the Hollies Stand was heaving again. Normal service had resumed.