England v Australia, 4th Test, Headingley August 5, 2009

Don't boo Ponting, says Giles Clarke

Cricinfo staff

Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has called for England supporters to stop their booing of Ricky Ponting when the fourth Test starts at Headingley on Friday. Ponting has become a target of the home fans since Cardiff, when he questioned Andrew Strauss's stalling tactics, and been jeered whenever he walks on to the field.

While Ponting doesn't mind the treatment, Clarke has written in the match programme that Australia's captain has earned the "the respect and courtesy" of the supporters who "may never see his like again". In his column in the Daily Telegraph Ponting said he was "half-expecting" the treatment.

"There is never anything untoward," Ponting said. "It is always good, light-hearted stuff, and when England have a sniff of winning the volume goes up ten-fold. They add a lot to the whole experience of the Ashes."

Ponting received a standing ovation when he passed Allan Border's Australian run-scoring record in Birmingham, but there wasn't much support from the 20,000-plus fans who attended each day. "The Edgbaston crowd were not the first to boo me this summer - but they were the loudest," he said. "Which makes sense, because Edgbaston is famous for being the bullring of English cricket.

"Whenever I walk out of the changing rooms I'm half-expecting it. I'm thinking: 'Right, let's get it out of the way, get the booing done, and then I'll start building my innings.'"

Ponting is the most recognisable face in the regenerating Australian team and the best player, which helps make him a target. Despite Clarke's message, Ponting is unlikely to get much respite in Leeds as Australia aim to level the series with two matches to play.

"The reputation of Headingley has been built up over many years," Stewart Regan, the Yorkshire chief executive, told the Times. "The West Stand has a reputation as a party area and we've got to break that. We've put together a series of measures to ensure that those people who want to watch the cricket are not disrupted by those who are simply there to have a good time."

Security has been increased by 20% at Headingley for the match, with 300 stewards in charge of cutting down the anti-social behaviour. Graham Onions said the players tried not to listen to what was happening in the stands and hoped Ponting would be treated better. "He's one of the best batsmen in the world, if not the best, so I would never boo him," he said. "I have too much respect for him."

Shane Watson, the Australia allrounder, said the banter from the crowd had been "excellent". "I have actually had a lot of laughs and giggles out in the middle, especially during the last Test match," he said. "That's what you expect when you come over here and play in different countries. You expect good fun banter and I think it's been brilliant."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Avery on August 7, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    No, Ponting oughtn't be booed, but what do you expect from a sports crowd? I tend to think the Australian fans oughtn't have jeered at Simon Jones when the poor guy was lying injured on the Gabba outfield, but there you go. I refuse to attend sporting events in my native Australia any longer because of the torrents of racial and other assorted abuse hurled at elite athletes by talentless, usually drunk morons. I'd not expect it to be any different anywhere else.

    The only humour I can see is those Australians getting on their high horses, or other nationalities, as though the same doesn't happen in their own backyards.

    In short - why is anyone surprised?

  • Craig on August 6, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    It's like shooting fish in a barrel. leifedling: We are losing at the moment and yet staying dignified. Sam4fun:<Sachin, Lara, Border enjoy(ed) better crowd support than Ponting and it is no rocket science to figure out why.> No you're right, it's dead easy to figure out. None of those guys have ever been the captain of a country that's humilated other teams for 15 years. Jarr30: The egg was thrown from a speeding car at night in Hobart. The egg didn't hit Murali but 1 of the other 3 people in the group. Even the team said Murali wasn't targeted, but don't let that spoil your argument. vswami & rahulsaxena: Do u know how an interview works? Journalists ask stupid questions, Aussie captain has to answer, Indian fans carry on like idiots. Simple. To those few people who read and understood the article and then commented I appreciate your input. Too bad you are in the minority. Moderators would be good.

  • Jeremy on August 6, 2009, 13:26 GMT

    I actually feel that Stewart Regan is a bit over the top as well: "We've put together a series of measures to ensure that those people who want to watch the cricket are not disrupted by those who are simply there to have a good time."

    I take my friends to the cricket that dont even Like cricket - they drink and start to get into the atmosphere. They are simply there to have a good time - and there is nothing wrong with that. Obviously if they are causing disruptions in terms of violent behaviour then they shouldnt be there, but getting involved in the atmosphere louder than usual - there's nothing wrong with.

    As for the boo-ing, i don't think anyone has a right to tell them to stop. Its part and parcel of the game and no one is exempt from it (11000 runs or not).

  • Him on August 6, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    There are idiots in every part of the world - be it Australia, India, England, etc. (btw, @emski - interesting and honest article...something for Indian cricket fans to reflect on) And there are sporting crowds in all countries too (in India, perhaps the Chennai crowds are the most sporting - they've even given standing ovations to Pak teams on winning). So no country has a high moral ground here. As for Ponting, 3 hard facts: 1) He will very likely become the highest Test run scorer of all time, and so will leave an indelible mark on cricket history; 2) To contemporary cricket fans outside Australia, he is unlikely to ever command the respect / admiration of Taylor or Steve Waugh, or batsman like Lara, Sachin or Mark Waugh; 3) he's a bloody good man to have in your side (for both talent and commitment).

  • Patrick on August 6, 2009, 10:54 GMT

    There seems to be a common response to just about everything controversial on this site ... and that is "yeah, well, xxx started it" or "yeah, well the xxx team is way worse". Does anyone else think that it is all a bit childish? The fact is, in ANY sport, booing is just not on. There is nothing I hate more than the crowd booing a rugby kicker lining up a goal (or for that matter cheering when they miss). There is a difference between supporting your team, and just being a lout. I love the barmy army, their songs and humour. But when they cross the line from supporting England to denigrating the opposition is the time to call it what it is: poor. To those who support or even just condone the booing of Ponting, you cannot call yourselves cricket fans.

  • Emma on August 6, 2009, 8:41 GMT

    For all of those bloggers stating that Aussie fans would 'boo' international cricketers of Pontings caliber in Australia....I leave this link to an article by Suresh Menon. http://www.dreamcricket.com/dreamcricket/news.hspl?nid=10793&ntid=3 Aussies recognise and respect good cricket, from any side. English fans need to buck up. I think the love of football has pervaded the gentlemans game, where fans are encouraged to berate opposition and members of their own team if they don't like their form. Banter is good, it's part of sporting rivalry. But booing or putting down a well respected sportsman is tantamount to infantilism.

  • mahmood on August 6, 2009, 8:13 GMT

    Ponting The Great is the greatest Batsman of all time right after Don Bradman who also captained an invincible Aussie side for 5 years and now building up another invincible Aussie Team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is there anyone at present who can stand beside him? Its really funny that we have to read some articles like this.

  • Callum on August 6, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    Sigh.. 1. Ponting is not continually complaining about this issue. He simply answers questions put forth by the media. To do otherwise would be rather rude now wouldn't it? 2. The content of Pontings response to the media questioning have never stated that this bothers him nor has he eluded to caring mucb about this issue. 3. I'm sick of passive people posting their deluded rubbish on this website. Another thread full of ridiculous, mis-informed and poorly contructed opinions. The censorships of comments is becoming a joke.


  • Ravish on August 6, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    I am not sure what is more embarrassing for Ponting - crowd booing or English administrators and press sympathizing with him. Anyways, all of this is a sideshow. What matters at the end is the series result because the final script is written then. Everything that happens in between is subject to change in interpretation by the historians (subjugation or comeback) when they look back depending on the outcome of the series.

  • michael on August 6, 2009, 5:08 GMT

    What a crack up Jarr30 - Ponting not in same league as Tendulkar and Lara? - check the batting averages my friend. Ponting at 13th thanks to a leaner time while captain but still above Sachin, who never had the bottle for the job, and Brian, who massacred (or was that mutinied?) the job! Agreed cricket fans the world over leave a bit to be desired these days, part of the problem of "bringing the game to the masses", much to the regret of the true cricket fan. The days of truly witty banter seemed to disappear with the grassed spectactor areas and players who played for their country rather than the almighty dollar (IPL take note, what a farce, complete with cheerleaders!) Not much wit in what was doled out to Mitch Johnston at Lords - yes, I was there - but not a whinge in earshot, unlike PlasticKiwi!

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