Scott Morrison has praised cricketer Steve Smith as deserving “nothing but respect” and told hecklers he expects the former captain to answer his critics by bringing home the Ashes.
The Prime Minister’s remarks follow news that an MCC member was kicked out of the Lord’s pavilion for verbally abusing Steve Smith after he was hit in the neck and collapsed on day four of the second Ashes Test.
The Times reported it was the first time a member of Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787, has been ejected for booing and follows the introduction of tougher guidelines for member behaviour.
Welcome back Steve Smith. https://t.co/lmI3JpCGhg
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) August 1, 2019
“A draw for the second Test but it was a total Ashes foul for the crowd at Lord’s to boo Steve Smith. His performance on the pitch during his return to Test Match cricket in the UK demands nothing other than respect,” Mr Morrison said.
“He’s a champion & has handled the events of the past year with a real humility. I’m extremely proud of Steve Smith, not just because he comes from the Shire. The crowd could learn a thing or two from Steve Smith.
“I look forward to him answering his hecklers with bat & ball in hand to bring home the Ashes.”
Smith is recovering after he was ruled out of playing the final day of the Test, with “mild concussion”.
Mr Morrison was quick to call for Smith’s public rehabilitation after the ball-tampering crisis.
Smith was forced to resign as Australia’s captain, along with David Warner, the vice-captain, after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
The Prime Minister later urged Cricket Australia to restore trust and credibility in the sport in the wake of a damning report into its administration, describing it as “sobering reading”.
“I think for cricket fans all across Australia, they will be very disappointed,” Mr Morrison said at the time.
“Young boys and girls look up to their cricket heroes and they aspire as a result of what they see out there on the field.
“That imposes I think a very heavy responsibility on Cricket Australia to ensure that they are upholding the values of our great game.”