Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Booing losers is poor form

Captain Steve Smith, right, after a controversial dismissal of a teammate. Photo / Getty Images
Captain Steve Smith, right, after a controversial dismissal of a teammate. Photo / Getty Images

When it comes to cricket, there's nothing quite as irritating as the Australian players.

They are arrogant, they're the world champs and they mouth off.

So, when they mouthed off about our cricket crowds and called us "savage" and the hardest fans to play in front of, you'd be forgiven for getting irritated.

Unfortunately, they may have a point. Their main issue is that the Hamilton crowd changed the game this week - Kiwi fans watched a replay on the big screen, called for an Aussie player to be given out, and got their wish.

I don't have a problem with that.

It's what the crowd did at the end of the game I didn't like.

The Australians lost the match and, because he's captain, Steve Smith had to do that awful thing all defeated captains have to do - stand on the field in front of a camera and admit everything your squad did wrong and how brilliant the other squad was.

The poor bugger looked like he was on the brink of crying.

He was asked about the incident with the crowd and the TV replay, and when he started saying it was a bit rough, the crowd started booing.

He shut up immediately.

There's no empathy in booing the answer of a man who's just had the sporting equivalent of a bursary fail.

It's widely accepted our crowds are a little on the rabid side.

There's a clue in the fact that, less than two weeks ago, Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum used a press conference to ask our cricket audiences to respect the Baggy Greens during their tour here.

Less than a month ago, the Auckland cricket crowd booed Pakistani player Mohammad Amir when he stepped up to bowl. To be fair, he's most well-known for serving three months in jail for a conspiracy to spot-fix, but still, that display from the crowd made international news.

It's not just cricket crowds embarrassing us in front of the world. Five years ago, the rugby crowd at Eden Park sank to the low of booing the Australian national anthem and then - obviously not satisfied they'd made their point - went on to throw bottles at the players, including at one guy lining up to take a kick at goal.

Boy, did we have a national debate about crowd behaviour then. We had the 2011 Rugby World Cup just around the corner and it was on our home patch. We wanted our crowds to make us proud.

Mostly, they did, but there was a problem: Quade Cooper. The crowds relentlessly booed the Aussie player until it was embarrassing.

Sure, he's no one's nomination for gentleman player of the year, but the booing got so tiresome even Steve Hansen said "enough".

You could argue we're just passionate but passionate sports fans want to see two teams battle it out, not influence a game by booing to put off an opposing kicker as he lines up to punt at goal.

You could argue we're just having a little fun, but that shouldn't include throwing four-letter words at cricket players within earshot of the crowd. You could argue we're just encouraging our team to win, but that doesn't explain why the crowd booed Smith when he had already lost.

Sure, other crowds have their own embarrassing moments - no one's going to miss the English booing of Richie McCaw. But, consider how unfair we think that was on a man we hold in high esteem in this country, and maybe think twice before doing the same to another country's sporting giants.

Clarification: Heather du Plessis-Allan's column on the TPP protest in Auckland last week referred to "The guy lying in the middle of the road clutching a molotov cocktail". The Herald on Sunday accepts no one at the protest had a molotov cocktail and the reference may have been unintentionally misleading.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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