Australians asking fans at the Cricket World Cup to stop booing David Warner and Steve Smith was “a bit strange” as their former coach Darren Lehmann had once told supporters to jeer England’s Stuart Broad, the hosts’ batsman Jonny Bairstow has said.
Smith and Warner returned to Australia’s one-day international setup prior to the World Cup after serving a 12-month ban for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year and the two have faced hostile crowds since.
India’s captain Virat Kohli came to Smith’s defence when he was booed by a section of the Indian support during their World Cup match earlier this month.
"I've read that Justin Langer, the Australia coach, and Virat Kohli have asked supporters not to boo Steve Smith and Warner. I'm not sure that makes any difference," England opening batsman Bairstow wrote in a column for The Telegraph.
“The fans will react however they want, particularly in the Ashes (which begins on 1 August in Edgbsaton). It is a bit pointless pleading with them not to boo Smith or Warner.”
Bairstow, who struck up an unlikely partnership with Warner in the Indian Premier League, said his fellow opener in the Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise was an “amazing cricketer” but that it was hypocritical to suggest he cannot be booed.
“There is a fine line as well. There was a time not that long ago when the then Australia coach, Darren Lehmann, was telling the Australia crowd to send Stuart Broad home crying,” Bairstow said ahead of England’s crunch World Cup match against Australia on Tuesday.
“I’m sure it was not meant maliciously but for Australians then to say ‘do not boo these guys’ is interesting. It has to work both ways, it can’t just all be one way.
“I’m not saying it is right or wrong. But to have the mentality (that) ‘we can do it to you, but you cannot do it to us’ is a bit strange.”
During the 2013 Ashes in England, Lehmann had accused Broad of “blatant cheating” when he refused to walk after edging a ball to slip and the former coach had called on fans to send the fast bowler home from the return Ashes series in tears.
“From my point of view I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and I hope he cries and he goes home,” Lehmann had then said.
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Sunrisers Hyderabad removed Warner from the captaincy in the first leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year and when the league resumed in the UAE he was left out of playing XI after ordinary outings in the first two matches.
Rarely, if ever, have Australia had such a disjointed build-up to a major tournament.
India thumped Australia by eight wickets in a warm-up game with Rohit Sharma (60), K L Rahul (39) and Suryakumar Yadav (38) all getting some runs under their belts.