Sandpaper jokes look to be out of the systems of English cricket fans after signs were confiscated on the way into The Oval for the first one-day international against Australia overnight.
The match was Australia’s first official outing since the ill-fated tour of South Africa.
Without the banned Steve Smith and David Warner, new captain Tim Paine did his best to change the team’s reputation by shaking hands with England to begin the series on a positive note.
Off the field, some fans didn’t quite get their way.
Eight employees of a banking firm reportedly spent two days cutting up rolls of sandpaper and branding the pieces with ‘4’ and ‘6’ for fans to wave along the boundary.
They apparently finished up with 5000 pieces to dish out – but security intervened, letting only a handful into the ground.
While some were waved at the Australian fielders many more were reportedly thrown in the bin or on the ground as the fans opted to let it pass to instead watch the cricket.
Former Australian coach Darren Lehmann didn’t seem to approve of the attempt:
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) June 13, 2018
The players on the field, with few involved in both the third Test in South Africa and this first ODI, weren’t bothered.
“I haven’t spoken to the (other guys) but there wasn’t any talk of copping too much stick out there, which is nice,” Paine said.
The result probably had something to do with it.
Paine won the toss and elected to bat in perfect conditions only for his side’s batting woes to resurface once again as they were dismissed for just 214 in 47 overs.
Despite the hugely under-par total, a rookie Australia bowling attack did their best to force what would have been a stunning victory but England reached their target with six overs to spare finishing at 7-218.
“Ball-tampering sandpaper, anyone?” Eight staff members spent two full days in their office cutting up these for today’s match and are handing them out at Vauxhall. pic.twitter.com/cyb3tBPJRs
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) June 13, 2018
Giant paceman Billy Stanlake was the pick of the attack, but he was ably supported by debutant Michael Neser and Andrew Tye with the trio taking two wickets apiece.
The 204cm Queenslander bowled Jason Roy with the second ball of the England innings and also dismissed Joe Root (50) to finish with figures of 2-44.
England’s response got off to a shaky start as they slipped to 3-38 but, led by skipper Eoin Morgan (69) and Root, they recovered to 3-153 before Australia fought back to reduce the hosts to 7-197.
But David Willey got his team over the line, finishing 35 not out to give Morgan’s side a sixth ODI success over Australia in their last seven meetings.