Crickey royalty Mark Taylor, Ian Healy and Shane Warne have slammed the “disgusting” behaviour of a small group of fans who booed Steve Smith after he was hit on the neck by a bouncer at Lord’s.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan asked the crowd to “please stop booing”, urging spectators a standing ovation was a more appropriate response.
And while the infamous Barmy Army distanced themselves on social media from the booing, wishing the champion batsman the best for his “recovery”, England paceman Chris Woakes opted against condemning the booing.
Smith copped a frightening blow on day four of the second Ashes Test, when he misread a Jofra Archer delivery that could have done serious damage.
Batting partner Pat Cummins and a stack of fielders rushed to Smith, while Australia’s team doctor Richard Saw sprinted out to the middle and insisted the batsman retires hurt.
The 30-year-old was able to walk off the field without assistance and passed a concussion test, returning to bat at the fall of the next wicket.
There was a standing ovation when Smith walked off the ground, most members of the crowd also stood and applauded when he resumed his knock.
But some of England’s supporters opted to boo the batsman, who has copped plenty of abuse and jeers during both the World Cup and Ashes in his comeback tour from a year-long suspension, at both junctures.
Many cricket fans are questioning the spectators that booed Steve Smith as he returned to the crease after a blow to the head. https://t.co/4LNquDruLf
— Twitter Moments India (@MomentsIndia) August 17, 2019
Healy, who is hosting Nine Network’s coverage of the showpiece series, was shocked.
“It was disgusting,” Healy said.
“Lord’s won’t be happy with that either. They don’t like any ‘yobbo’ element of crowd behaviour.”
Australia coach Justin Langer shrugged his shoulders then choose his words wisely when asked about the boos.
“What can I say? … I’ve spoken enough about the boos, there’s nothing we can do about the boos,” Langer said.
“There is also a lot of people standing and applauding him.”
Langer revealed exactly what Smith said after being cleared to return to the crease, saying by the time he walked back into the dressing room, “he couldn’t wait to get back out there”.
“All that he was worried about was that he wasn’t going to be able to play his forward defence because it was hurting with his top hand grip.
“He was going ‘mate I just want to get out there … I can’t get up on the honours board unless I’m out batting’,” Langer said, saying the players were like sons to him and he wouldn’t ever put them in harm’s way.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 17, 2019
“I asked him behind closed doors two or three times. I asked him in front of the group, he just kept going ‘all good, all good coach. I’m ready to go’.
“What else do you do? The medicos cleared him … all that he was worried about was (the arm injury).”
The Barmy Army, who taunted Smith for his role in the Cape Town cheating scandal throughout the Edgbaston series opener, distanced itself from those fans booing the stricken superstar.
But paceman Chris Woakes, fielding at fine leg when Smith was struck, immediately grasped the seriousness of the situation but opted against condemning the noise.
“People are entitled to do as they wish, that’s up to them and what they feel is necessary,” Woakes said.
“What they think as a person is right and wrong. For Steve to come out, having been hit the way he was, does show some courage and character.
“You get a feel from the noise more than anything. You could hear it was fleshy,” Woakes said. “When that’s the case, you worry.”
We are not at Lord's and we are not booing Steve Smith.
He took a horrible blow to the head, and we wish him the best in his recovery. https://t.co/hEl0lKA0jx
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) August 17, 2019
Mark Taylor, who is on deck at the home of cricket as a Nine pundit, lashed the booing as “very disappointing”.
Shane Warne suggested booing Smith in other instances was one thing but to add insult to injury was not on.
“Just get up, clap and say that’s courageous, very brave,” Warne said in commentary.