Gabba security staff under fire November 24, 2006

Barmy Army threatens boycott

Cricinfo staff

"There was some great banter with the Boony Army. Now it's ruined." © Getty Images

The Barmy Army is considering cancelling its tour of Australia after members were "treated like schoolchildren" by security staff at the Gabba. The group's founder Paul Burnham said if things continued in the same vein the tour could be abandoned.

"Absolutely. We are waiting to see how it develops before giving advice to people coming over [from England] for the Sydney and Melbourne Tests," Burnham told AAP. He said he was infuriated that the Barmy Army's official trumpet player Billy Cooper was escorted from the ground on Thursday, given that Cooper had been given permission to play.

"I flew over to Melbourne in May and talked to Cricket Australia about the trumpet," Burnham said. "We were told he would be able to play at the ground and he was quite good for stopping the Mexican wave. We were getting some pretty positive vibes back and then all of a sudden he's been ejected.

"He played his trumpet in the morning and it was fine. We got our third wicket [in the second session] and suddenly he was asked to leave the ground. Everyone was having a really good time, there was a great atmosphere in the ground, we sat next to the Boony Army guys and there was some great banter. Now the whole thing is ruined."

Bill Cooper:silenced © Getty Images
Burnham said it was also disappointing that seat allocations meant thousands of England supporters were scattered all around the Gabba, which made them feel "not very welcome at all". He said "an awful lot" of Barmy Army members had not bothered to attend the second day, instead watching the match from their hotel.

Burnham, who came up with the idea of the Barmy Army during the 1994-95 Ashes tour, said Cricket Australia were ruining the spirit of the game. "They believe the Barmy Army will help England win so it just seems everything is geared to try and make sure there is no fun in the game," he said. "We just want to come over and have a good time ... not to be treated like schoolchildren.

"We've come back to the country where the Barmy Army started 12 years ago. We are a group that has supported the sport over the last three tours, spent millions of pounds and we are treated like this."