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The crowd mocked the Australians as 'cheats'. The team responded with magic

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Here is a frame for the week’s extraordinary events in Birmingham. As they walked up the players’ race to their Edgbaston cricket ground changing room, dismissed Australian batsmen in the first Ashes Test match were told they were cheats and losers who had let their team down.

Grown men – and here, cricket crowds are more male-dominated than most places – jumped to their feet to mock the Australians as cry-babies and hypocrites. This very personal taunting was the up-close focus against a general background of songs and chants, some of it good-natured, some of it the kind of nastiness that is only good-natured in the self-congratulatory minds of those delivering it.

The Edgbaston crowd waves pieces of sandpaper at the Australians.Credit:Nine

If anything was proven by the end of the week, it was that the net effect of this treatment was to knit the Australians together and bring out their best cricket. The most targeted Australian, the most derided man in England, produced the batting of a lifetime.

Even as he received his player-of-the-match award, Steve Smith had to speak above the songs of the last........

© The Age