The New Zealand cricket team is the latest to raise the issue of abusive Australian crowds, claiming they were taunted as “faggots” during the first Test at the Gabba. Kiwi fast bowler Iain O’Brien has described the Brisbane crowd as “embarrassing” and claimed the Black Caps were subjected to repeated and systematic abuse.
“I don’t know how many times I was called a ‘faggot’,” O’Brien wrote on his personal blog.
“You get called anything and everything. Embarrassing for these guys really, as a lot of the others around them are cringing.
“The crowds here are pretty good, ruined by a few – actually quite a few – idiots who think a day out at the cricket is just to abuse the guys playing, any way how.”
Cricket Australia and ground security officers will now have to keep an extra close eye on fans to avoid a repeat in Adelaide for the second Test against New Zealand starting on Friday. The Gabba has been a flashpoint for crowd trouble in the past, such as in 2003 when Muttiah Muralidaran was taunted by the crowd with relentless chants of “monkey” and “f… off, chucker”.
In 2006, South African players Makhaya Ntini, Garnett Kruger, Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince claimed they were taunted with racial gibes while warming up at the Gabba.
Australian grounds have been repeatedly warned they could be stripped of their international status if foul-mouthed outbursts continue to flare. Test and one-day international venues around the country are on notice from the International Cricket Council, which has passed hardline laws giving it the power to ban any troublesome venue. However, the threat does not appear to be getting through, with more ugly abuse hurled at the Kiwis.
There is the potential for more trouble in the first Test against South Africa next month in Perth — a venue which has been a hotspot for abuse in the past.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said he hoped there would be no repeat of the abuse which marred South Africa’s tour to Australia three years ago.
“We don’t believe that will happen. I am sure Australia will take care of that,” Majola said.
“We haven’t even bothered thinking about that. If it happens, I am sure Cricket Australia will take care of that.”
The great irony is that Kiwi crowds are far from angels themselves. New Zealand fans have notoriously sledged the Australians and there have been huge problems across the Tasman on several occasions.
Former Australian batsman Stuart Law had a sauce bottle thrown at him in Wellington a decade ago. A few years later Michael Bevan was struck by a fish thrown by an unruly fan.
Brett Lee also had fruit and other items thrown at him.