Edgbaston crowd showing sanpapers to mock Steve Smith and David Warner in The Ashes 2019
Edgbaston crowd mocking Australians on the first day of The Ashes 2019(Image source: Getty)

The first day of The Ashes 2019 saw the return of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft to the Australian Test match set up. Australia was bound to witness some mockery and hostility from a full house at Edgbaston. Even before the start of the game, England captain Joe Root spoke up on the crowd ‘booing’ Australia being inevitable.

“I’m certainly not going to be stood there booing, that’s for sure. It must’ve been a really tough time for the three of those guys,” Root was quoted as saying. “The one-dayers gave a small idea of what it probably will be like for them. We’re not going to get involved in that as a team.”

By one-dayers, Root meant the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. That was where the Australian duo of Warner and Smith returned after serving a ban for involvement in ball tampering. They had already caught a glimpse of what they can expect at The Ashes in England.

Come the Ashes, the biggest rivalry in cricket, how can you not expect a more hostile reception? Why would England, home to a sport which has a special place allocated for ‘boos’, welcome their fiercest of rivals in a manner that was even close to nice when they can see a huge reason not to?

Inevitably, the Australian team were received with incessant boos, with a set of fans even visible with sandpapers.

After a similar reception in the Word Cup, Indian captain Virat Kohli apologised Smith and urged the crowd not to do so.

Could Joe Root have done something similar? If he had, would he have been successful?

But again, this is not the World Cup, neither is this India vs Australia. Imagine Kohli in a similar situation in an India vs Pakistan match at Delhi. Whether he would have tried to stop the crowd would have remained completely up to him. But it would seem highly unlikely that he would have succeeded in his attempts.

While Kohli’s gesture at the World Cup was of extreme goodwill, it is difficult to expect the same from Root in The Ashes. Perhaps Root could have made an attempt to stop it, but eventually, it was inevitable.