(Photo: @TheBarmyArmy)

Australia haunted by sandpaper sledges in ODI defeat

Australia suffered a tight three-wicket defeat to England overnight in its first international fixture following the ball-tampering scandal – and didn’t the Old Enemy love it.

In the opening One Day International of a five-match series in the Old Dart, the new-look Aussies were mercilessly mocked. Fervent English fans at The Oval brandished sandpaper in reference to March’s cheating fiasco in South Africa.

Security staff at the London venue confiscated over 5000 sandpaper cards with ‘4’ and ‘6’ written on them, but it didn’t stop the cheeky Poms from sledging the tourists both in the crowd and on social media.

Former Australian coach Darren Lehmann wasn’t impressed with the taunts.

He’d stepped down after the ball-tampering scandal but couldn’t resist striking back at English journalist Alison Mitchell on Twitter, after she posted a photo of sandpaper being handed out to punters outside the ground.

Worryingly for Lehmann’s coaching successor, Justin Langer, the Aussie batsmen crumbled rather meekly – in the absence of banned batting lynchpins Steve Smith and David Warner. Australia was reduced to 4-70 at one point during its innings as only Glenn Maxwell (62) and Ashton Agar (40) provided resistance in the team’s total of 214.

While Australia’s bowling performance was spirited, with quicks Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye and Michael Neser snaring two wickets apiece, England reached the run target with six overs to spare. English spinner Moeen Ali was named Man of the Match for his tidy bowling effort of 3-43.

Australian captain Tim Paine lamented his side’s top-order batting collapse in the post-match news conference, saying the display simply wasn’t good enough.

“It was really simple, we didn’t get enough runs out of our top five,” Paine said. “You don’t win too many one-day games when the highest score out of your top five is 22 or 23 runs.”

The next one-day game in the series will be played on Saturday, 16 June, and Paine said the Australian batsmen need to improve considerably before then.

“It’s going to be up to our guys to translate what they are working on in the nets,” he said. “Sometimes that’s a little bit more difficult than it may seem under pressure.”

– Featured image @TheBarmyArmy.