It may have been four years since the ball tampering scandal involving Steve Smith and David Warner, but the duo remain public enemy no.1 in the eyes of English cricket fans.
Smith and Warner were ruthlessly booed and mocked during the 2019 Ashes series in England as they returned to Test cricket.
The pair were banned from the game for 12 months after ordering striker Cameron Bancroft to tamper with the ball using a piece of sandpaper in the third Test match of the series against South Africa in Cape Town.
If they thought England fans had moved on, the first Test at Edgbaston proved them wrong.
The Birmingham crowd were at their best in a thrilling opening test of the series, while some Australian players returned it in spades as they challenged Barmy Army’s famous antics to win one of the biggest victories in Ashes history.
Steve Smith was ruthlessly dragged by England fans to Edgbaston during the first Ashes Test
David Warner was also targeted by the raucous Hollies Stand but returned some
With Australia briefly managing to calm the fans on Day 4 as England lost wickets at regular intervals in their second innings, Smith was asked to line up outside the Eric Hollies stand.
The home of Barmy Army during games at Edgbaston, the Hollies Stand is rrecognized as the loudest stand in the floor and quickly lived up to its reputation.
England fans serenaded Smith with chants of “Cry on the tele!” We’ve seen you cry on TV,’ a reference to the former Australia captain bursting into tears as he admitted his role in the ball tampering scandal at a press conference in Sydney.
Earlier in the day, Warner had lined up at the same spot and he too was on the receiving end of a barrage from the Hollies.
Undeterred, however, the veteran flyhalf crossed the boundary line with his hand held out to his ear, signaling the crowd to give him more.
Travis Head and Nathan Lyon were also among the Hollies’ favorite targets throughout the first Test, but both seemed to enjoy back and forth with fans.
The Aussie striker was beaten ruthlessly after missing a catch on matchday one but won over the England fans by returning their banter as he lined up in front of the stand.
And he even came to their rescue by retrieving an inflatable beach ball that had gotten lost on the field and launching himself into the crowd again to the delight of the fans.
Lyon, meanwhile, were branded ‘s**t Moeen Ali’ but silenced the crowd by taking eight wickets in the game.
The chant “Same old Australians, always cheating” also played regularly throughout the test, notably when Marnus Labuschagne called for a capture he had clearly founded on Day 4.
The chant was also sung with gusto on Day 3, when the Australians appealed aloud for Zak Crawley’s wicket as the ball was cannoned into his pads twice in two balls, but failed to examine the wicket. one or other of the non-withdrawal decisions.
Part of the sledding, however, was in rather bad taste as it referenced convicted pedophile Rolf Harris.
“Rolf Harris, he’s one of you,” some English fans sang in reference to Harris being Australian.
England fans at the Hollies Stand were in full voice throughout the Edgbaston test
Travis Head was dragged by England fans but won them over by flipping a beach ball
The Aussie hitter rescued a beach ball that had strayed onto the pitch and launched into the Hollies Stand to the delight of fans on Day 4.
Harris was convicted in 2014 of the sexual assault of four underage girls and sentenced to five years and nine months in prison and died last month at the age of 93.
Speaking after knocking out Labuschagne and Smith at the end of Day 4, English fashion designer Stuart Broad waved to the Edgbaston crowd.
“I have to admit, I got absolutely every second of that last hour tonight,” he said, reflecting on how the noise from the Hollies Stand kept him going.
“It was so good to run, just to hear that roar and the cheers. It’s so special to play test match cricket in front of crowds like this. Ashes cricket is just magical, n ‘is this not ? “