The Ashes 2019 series is all set to begin from August 1 and there is plenty at stake for both teams. England, fresh from World Cup success, will be determined to get the better of Australia and win the Ashes to sign their golden summer off on a high. Australia, on the other hand, will be determined to break their 18-year jinx in England and win a series for the first time since 2001. The Australian side will see the presence of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for the first time in more than a year. However, the presence of the trio will give ample ammunition to the England crowd to go after the trio, who were banned for one year due to their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in March 2018.
Speaking about whether the crowd will give the Australian team a tough time, England all-rounder Joe Denly, who will bat at the No.4 position in the first Test in Edgbaston remarked that the Australians might get a stick from the crowd for sandpapergate. "If it was the other way around and we were going out to Australia, I'm pretty sure we would hear a lot about it. What the crowd decides to do I don't know. I'm sure the Aussies might hear a little bit about sandpaper-gate throughout the series. I can't really comment on how [the crowd] will be feeling but after a few beers I'm sure the Aussies might get a bit of stick," Denly said in the pre-match press conference before the first Test.
Smith, Warner and Bancroft were all involved in the ball-tampering scandal which shattered Australia's reputation during the Newlands Test in Cape Town in March 2018. Bancroft was spotted removing yellow sandpaper from his trousers in order to tamper with the ball. Smith pleaded guilty and Warner was also implicated in the scandal. Cricket Australia decided to ban Smith and Warner for one year while Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban. Smith has been handed a captaincy ban till 2020 while Warner has been barred permanently from ever leading any Australian side.
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Denly said he did not want to put too much pressure on himself and said the Ashes challenge was a tough one. "There's no doubt the Australian bowling line-up is one of the best in the world and, as a top-order batter, that is where you want to be, testing yourself against the best. But I learned from when I previously played for England, I put too much pressure on myself. Getting back in the England team is certainly not something I've been focusing on recently. So playing in an Ashes series, for me it's just about enjoying my cricket and scoring lots of runs for Kent and seeing where it takes me," Denly added.