Broad fan incitement comes home to roost
Australia have attempted to douse the flames of supporter incitement against Stuart Broad - started by the national team coach Darren Lehmann - by requesting the shutdown of a Facebook page on which its creator promised to run onto the MCG and tackle the England fast bowler on Boxing Day.
Cricket Australia were silent when Lehmann was fined $3,000 by the ICC for referring to Broad's "blatant cheating" when he did not walk after edging a catch behind the wicket in the first Test of the previous Ashes series at Trent Bridge, adding that he expected Australian crowds to make the Englishman's life a misery down under in the return bout.
"I hope they give it to him right from the word go for for the whole summer, and I hope he cries and goes home," Lehmann said on Triple M, the radio station that has won a share of the commercial rights for the summer. "I just hope everyone gets stuck into him, because of the way he's carried on and the way he's commented about it in the public is ridiculous."
The subsequent campaign against Broad has veered into evermore outlandish territory, peaking with the creation of a Facebook page entitled "100,000 likes and I'll tackle Stuart Broad on Boxing Day". The page has now accumulated more than 114,000 likes, moving CA to request it be removed from the social networking site and warning the page owner against carrying out his threat.
"Cricket Australia takes this issue seriously and will not tolerate anti-social behaviour, or anyone encouraging it, at any cricket match," CA said in a statement. "We've been in contact with Facebook to request the specific page be removed and will be passing on all available information to the relevant authorities.
"Anyone considering acting in this way is not welcome at the cricket and offenders will be subject to criminal charges and fines at all venues. Fines for entering the field of play vary from venue to venue but range in the thousands of dollars per offence."
In a statement the ECB said: "The ECB deplores any threats made towards any player and would urge Facebook to accede to Cricket Australia's request to remove the offending and offensive page. There is no place in cricket for the incitement to violence of any form."
Shane Warne had earlier offered fierce criticism of the campaign run by Brisbane's Courier-Mail newspaper to belittle Broad, suggesting it had served only to add motivation for England on the opening day of the match.
"This ridiculous stuff with the papers is just childish," Warne said on Channel Nine. "It's just like being at primary school. The Australian papers - we've been the worst media, the worst print media, for a long time. They're horrific, some of these guys, and I tell you what this is actually helping Broad, it's actually backfiring on them straight away.
"You don't really need that added motivation but as an individual deep down you think, 'I'll show you. You can sing your songs as much as you like but I'm just going to go about my business, I know what I'm doing'. It just inspired you a little bit more."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here