Steven Smith and David Warner are humans too. They made a mistake - a pretty big mistake - and have paid a price for it - a pretty heavy price. Stop booing them. That's the plea from Australia coach Justin Langer to crowds in England after the duo were made to feel welcome upon their return in the IPL. However, they have had to cop it in the World Cup warm-up games in England, where they will likely stay back to play the Ashes too.
Smith and Warner - captain and vice-captain at the time - spent a year out of cricket for their role in the ball-tampering scandal in the Cape Town Test last year. These will be their first international matches back after they resumed competitive cricket during the IPL.
The booing at the warm-up game was a wake-up call for Australia after which Langer spoke to the duo.
"We have talked about it a lot," Langer said. "We are expecting it. That said, when it happens, it doesn't make it any easier. You can talk about it as much as you like but that doesn't make it any easier. I mean they are human beings, and that's the truth. That's where I find it hard.
"I am a dad, and I have got kids. A lot of the time, players feel like they are my kids. And you see that happen. You know, you feel for them personally. They are going to have to have thick skin. We have talked about earning respect. I think it is really important that people show some respect as well. Because they are humans, they are really good cricketers. They made a mistake. They have paid the price for it. Big price actually. I feel for them as people more than anything else."
Langer said speaking more about it was not going to make much difference.
"After the experience of the other day at Hampshire, I think they have got a pretty good idea what to expect," Langer said. "And, as I said, you can talk about it as much as you like, you can put strategies in place to make sure they deal with it, but no human likes it. That is the truth. As professional cricketers, they will put that out of their mind. They will go and do their job but no one likes that."
Forget Smith and Warner, Langer said he didn't want to see any cricketer booed. "I will be disappointed any day if any cricketer is booed on a cricket ground," Langer said. "Regardless of what country they play for. It is not the spirit that any of us like to see.
"Obviously it hurts because I have got an emotional attachment, and personal attachment, to our players. But it is never a good look, is it, when that happens."
This appears to be consistent with how Australia reacted to the booing of visiting captain Virat Kohli in the home summer when he copped it in pretty much every Test. Ricky Ponting, assistant coach now, called it "disgraceful", and Cricket Australia asked fans to show more respect to the visitors.
It is a departure from the time when Stuart Broad was booed all summer in the 2013-14 Ashes, when then-coach Darren Lehmann said: "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."