Abusing players is unacceptable

Whichever way one looks at it there’s no doubt that abuse of the players is certainly not cricket and has no place in any sport. The sooner it is eradicated like a disease, the better sport will be.

Umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson, Mohammed Siraj of India, his team-mates and Tim Paine of Australia look at the crowd during a suspension in play following a complaint by Siraj regarding spectators’ behaviour during the Sydney Test. “It’s not easy to control crowds but if proper measures like having security personnel in the stands are taken then it can be curbed to a great extent,” feels the author.   -  Getty Images

Crowd behaviour has once again captured the headlines rather than the excellent cricket that has been played by the Indian and Australian cricket teams in this series. The cricket has been riveting where the game has swung wildly like a pendulum in a strong breeze. But at every venue there’s been some sort of crowd issue, some of which has not made the headlines. It is perhaps easy to say that it’s alcohol that has caused the flare ups, but even in venues where there is no alcohol available there have been problems. While racist abuse is definitely not on, the question is why should any abuse be acceptable at all? Buying a ticket does not give the spectator the right to abuse the players, be it any sport. Whatever and however strong your loyalties to a particular team may be, it certainly doesn’t give the supporter the unhindered right to abuse the players from the opposition teams. A lot of times fans think it’s funny and while banter is understood and possibly enjoyed by all including the one it’s directed at, it can backfire too. Most of the time the trouble is caused by youngsters trying to impress their friends who feel that having a go at a player will enhance their standing with their pals. Alcohol doesn’t help as most times the imbibing starts before lunch and then if the sun is out and you aren’t in the shade it can hit pretty badly and make you do and say things you might regret later.

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Expressing displeasure by booing is now accepted while around ten or so years earlier it was frowned upon as being disrespectful to the player. Crowd behaviour has changed over the years, for sure. They want to get value for their money and support the sport and want to be entertained and so they can be pretty demanding and vocal about it. That’s alright as long as there’s no abuse. What most of the guys seem to forget is that there are children also at every sport and to hear abuse at that young age is not a great thing for impressionable minds.

There’s the aspect of being seen on TV as well and that means fans will come dressed in a way that the cameraman will find them and beam them across TV monitors wherever the game is being watched. In England and Australia there are certain days of a Test match where a group of people come dressed like a favourite movie or TV character. That’s generally the Saturday of a Test match and the camera guys are actually waiting for them to make an appearance and, for sure, they make one by arriving fashionably late so the rest of the crowd can also notice them.

Australian captain Tim Paine congratulates India’s Ravichandran Ashwin at the end of the Sydney Test. The two were involved in an animated discussion and exchanged ‘pleasantaries’ during the final day’s play.   -  AP

 

It’s not easy to control crowds but if proper measures like having security personnel in the stands are taken then it can be curbed to a great extent. Plainclothes security mingling among known trouble areas of the ground is one way. Having security guys sitting facing the crowd rather than watching the game is another way where potential trouble makers can be spotted and dealt with.

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This also makes the crowd wary of throwing rubbish at the players. The Karnataka Cricket Association, one of the most forward thinking cricket bodies, is very proactive as far as crowd control is concerned. They have installed long nets from the roof of the stands downwards which prevents crowds from throwing rubbish on to the ground . This is a practice that could well be followed by other stadia in India. Close circuit cameras are also an important tool in finding out troublesome spots and can help in stopping things getting out of hand.

Many people wonder why players react or respond to crowd remarks and taunts. It’s an individual thing like players react to chirping from the opposition. Some get upset while some use it to get even more gritty and determined and make the opposition pay with an even better performance.

Whichever way one looks at it there’s no doubt that abuse of the players is certainly not cricket and has no place in any sport. The sooner it is eradicated like a disease, the better sport will be.

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