0To boo or not to boo…

Dur­ing the ODI world cup there has been con­tinu­ous dis­cus­sion amongst the com­ment­at­ors about the reac­tion of the crowds to the 2 Aus­trali­an cheats. Eoin Mor­gan didn’t take a pos­i­tion and said he felt it wasn’t up to him to tell the fans what to do or think. Vir­at Kohli asked sup­port­ers not to boo the pair in a pos­it­ive ges­ture that per­haps they don’t deserve. Former Eng­land play­ers includ­ing Graeme Swann have been very neg­at­ive about the boo­ing, as have many Aus­trali­an ex-pros. So what is the watch­ing pub­lic to do?

We strongly dis­agree with those who have attacked sup­port­ers for boo­ing. Smith and Warner were guilty of cheat­ing, but more than that, they behaved in a way that wouldn’t be accept­able in almost any oth­er walk of life. The anger towards them was about more than a bit of sand­pa­per. It was about their utter dis­respect for the spir­it of crick­et and the ter­rible example they were set­ting to future gen­er­a­tions. Warner espe­cially has a long track record includ­ing (but not lim­ited to) punch­ing Joe Root in a bar a few years ago, telling Rohit Sharma to “speak Eng­lish”, squar­ing up to Ran­gana Herath, and the infam­ous abuse dir­ec­ted at Jonath­an Trott. He has had far more chances than he deserves. I would prefer not to see him selec­ted to play inter­na­tion­al crick­et any more.

How­ever, one good point has been made about boo­ing. It often fires play­ers up and drives them to play at their best. Warner, for example, has scored plenty of runs in the world cup.

So, we have a pro­pos­al. Don’t boo reg­u­larly. Don’t do any­thing at all. By and large, main­tain a dig­ni­fied silence. Send a mes­sage that they aren’t wel­come but also that they aren’t worth the effort. If every bound­ary is greeted with deathly silence that sends a much more potent mes­sage. Save the boos for a major land­mark. Ignore the per­form­ance until a cen­tury is made and then boo loud and clear.

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