Australia Test skipper Tim Paine has called out the England side for what he thinks is a hypocritical take on hostile crowd reception, citing Ben Stokes’ Johannesburg incident as an example to express his ‘frustration’.
Stokes was captured on camera directing an abusive retort at a member in the crowd during last month’s Wanderers Test, after the spectator allegedly compared the all-rounder’s looks to popular singer Ed Sheeran.
Speaking to Newscorp, Paine quipped that Australia’s duo of David Warner and Steve Smith, among others, had been subjected to far worse in recent times, especially in England, but never retaliated.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 24, 2020
“Worse than being called Ed Sheeran? I think they might have,” Paine said, referring to the reception the Australian duo received during the World Cup and the Ashes, after returning from one-year suspensions. “Absolutely, all the time. And it wasn’t just Steve and Dave, it was everyone.”
Stokes had issued an apology soon after the incident, alleging that he had been subjected to repeated abuse from the crowds.
“This is one of the things that’s always irked me, particularly with the English,” Paine said. “You cannot react to the crowd [like Stokes], but then always encourage the Barmy Army to do exactly the same, and worse – abuse players.
“Like we had in Edgbaston, they clap them at the end of the days’ play and make a big point of thanking them, as like the 12th man, or 13th player.
"We all make mistakes. We are human beings and we have feelings"
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) May 20, 2019
“Then a little thing like that [Stokes being called Ed Sheeran], they react and all of a sudden, ‘We’re getting abused from the crowd, we’re getting this, we’re getting that.’
“That’s international cricket, just get on with it. It frustrates me, it really does.”
Warner and Smith both returned to South Africa for the first time since the tampering saga, and according to teammate Josh Hazlewood, have mentally conditioned themselves to receive an unwelcoming reception. “I don’t think it’ll faze them one bit,” Hazlewood had told reporters in Sydney last week.
Paine added that the entire Australian side has inculcated the mentality of taking things in their stride.
“The worst thing you can do is react to it and as we saw in South Africa recently, it just makes the story bigger and puts more heat into something that had he (Stokes) kept walking, then no one would have even known about.
“It’s been a big focus of ours, is being able to bat it off and get on with it.”