On a warm day in Bristol where the picturesque ground playing host to Australia's World Cup match against Afghanistan was, for the most part, bathed in sunshine, the men in green and gold felt the chill of an icy reception.

Plenty of locals and Afghanistan fans filled out the venue as the cheers of Aussie supporters in the stands barely made a ripple.

Steve Smith and David Warner are expecting to be booed wherever they go in England this summer but it's doubtful their teammates would have been expecting similar treatment.

Support for the underdog ran deep in the southwest of England as neutral fans jeered Justin Langer's troops and Afghanis with faces painted and flags in tow made their presence felt.

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It was obvious from the opening over Australia has a long way to go to win back the love of the cricket world.

David Warner of Australia drives. Photo / Getty
David Warner of Australia drives. Photo / Getty

Loud boos rang out when Aaron Finch reeled in a ball just short of the rope from a clip through mid-wicket, the crowd hoping desperately to see the No. 10 ranked ODI team in the world rebound from an early wicket with a boundary.

Next over there were huge roars of approval when Pat Cummins started his campaign with a no-ball and the noise intensified when Afghanistan added a single to its total.

The reaction to Cummins grabbing his first wicket — Australia's second — later that over was muted by comparison.

The first four brought about a standing ovation and schadenfreude was in full effect. Every blow that hurt the Aussies only brought the pro-Afghanistan crowd more joy.


A Marcus Stoinis misfield at cover saw what should have been a dot ball turn into four runs and you'd have thought the ground announcer had just said beers were free for the remainder of the match such was the jubilation that swept across the ground.

Finch was roundly booed again when he approached the rope after his colleague's blooper and later it looked like he was complaining to the umpire about an apple being lobbed towards him when tasked with retrieving another boundary ball.

He showed the red object to the official then pegged it side-arm about 60m and it made a distinguishable thud as it smacked into the advertising boards.

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A fanatic pocket of Afghani fans made sure Adam Zampa would go to bed tonight with their voices ringing in his head, cheering relentlessly as the Aussie tweaker manned third man and fine leg.

When Najibullah Zadran slapped Zampa for consecutive sixes in the 29th over, including the first of the day, it was like the Beatles had arrived in town such was the fanfare.

Even in the press box where the etiquette of not cheering usually applies, some eager journalists couldn't help themselves and cries of "yes" rang out when Afghanistan went on a six-hitting rampage late in the innings.

Every Afghan run was cheered and every Aussie error celebrated. Whether this was simply because Afghanistan is a team everyone is hoping does well — for obvious reasons — or symbolic of a deeper dislike for Australian cricket, even after its cultural revolution under Langer, only time will tell.

Amid the lively ambience provided by enthusiastic Afghan cricket lovers were the highly original taunts everyone knew were coming. As Smith walked back to the dressing room after having a hit in the warm-up, he stopped to sign autographs but some wanted a piece of him in a different way.

A middle-aged Brit made a crack about sandpaper as Smith's spikes clunked on the staircase, prompting his wife to take control. "Quiet, please," she rebuked sternly, much like a tennis umpire silencing a boisterous crowd.

A familiar six-word refrain broke out in the grandstand but the tune finished with a twist, turning it into an insult. "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: Cheat, cheat, cheat," a group sang.

There were small signs of Aussie support though. A group of young men, some wearing retro one-day kits who sounded like they'd been sinking ales since before the 1.30pm start, were particularly vocal as Afghanistan's innings came to a close.

Huddled in a spot that gave them the best vantage point of the players walking up the stairs and back into the changeroom, they called out to the Aussies as they left the field. Their loudest cries were reserved for Smith, who cracked a wide smile, as did Mitchell Starc, while Glenn Maxwell gave his countrymen a big thumbs up.

The change between the Afghanistan and Australian innings was huge. As Warner and Finch motored along, the noise died down. Far fewer people wanted to celebrate their boundaries but the elation returned when Finch was caught in the deep for 66.

Warner's teammates clapped when he raised his bat for 50 but everyone else booed. The crowd extended the same favour to Smith when he joined his tarnished teammate after Usman Khawaja departed.

The crowd was given one final reason to celebrate when Smith was out with victory just a few runs in sight.