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Cricket fans with sandpaper

Australia returns to cricket for first time since #sandpapergate

It has been 69 days since the ban hammer of Cricket Australia fell on disgraced trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

Now, for the first time since #sandpapergate, Australia returns to the cricket pitch in a five ODI series against England.

Proposed Test series' against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have been scrapped since the offending yellow paper was brandished against South Africa.

Cricket Australia claims this was for economic reasons, but there were obviously other reasons.

Across cricket forums on social media, Australia's once bitter rivals still lick their lips at our undoing. 'Cheat' the punters continue to scream at us. 'No sympathy for the banned trio', heir tears mean nothing;.

English fans even dressed up as Aussies coated in sandpaper in a recent Test series that didn't even involve Australia.

So now, 69 days since the sports greatest shame in our country, what can Australia expect when it returns to competitive action?

How will the new 'Aussie nice guys' attitude be received?

Tim Paine was the last man standing in the captaincy stakes, after both Steve Smith and David Warner were rubbed out for six months over the ball tampering scandal.

And he has boldly declared that the new era of Australian cricket will be one without sledging.

"I think there's always a time and a place to talk to your opposition, but I think what's said and how it's said will be very different going forward," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to playing that role and winning back the trust and respect of our fans and the Australian public first and foremost. That's a really exciting thing for our playing group."

This new stance has been backed by new coach Justin Langer, who said banter would be acceptable but abuse would not.

"If I play Uno with my daughter there’s lots of banter, we sort of sledge each other but we don’t abuse each other," he said.

"And when I play golf with my mum and dad we sort of sledge each other. But there’s a difference between banter and abuse, and abuse is not good. There’s no room for abuse anywhere."

This opens up the Australians to be provoked, which they almost certainly will be. How will they respond?

Will we be competitive on the cricket pitch without Smith and Warner?

The last time we played an ODI series against England we got pasted 4-1 - in Australia.

Admidedly England did just lose an ODI match to Scotland, but we can't worry about what's happening on the other side of the fence.

Not only will Australia go into this match without stalwarts Smith and Warner, but the pace triumvirate of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have also missed this tour through injury.

Glenn Maxwell is in shocking form, leaving the likes of Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis to anchor the Aussies' innings.

On the bowling front inexperienced duo Billy Stanlake and Michael Neser will join Kane Richardson and Jhye Richardson.

In English conditions with a crowd likely to border on hostile, the challenge is steep for Australia.

Will we recover from #sandpapergate?

The Barmy Army can't wait for this.

They have already baited New Zealand's Ross Taylor into signing a piece of sandpaper. Already dressed to incite Aussies - at a match against Pakistan.

They are only just warming up. The taunts of cheat will echo around the world for some time.

This is Australia's first gentle step on a very long journey towards retribution.

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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