Former England cricket captain Mike Atherton has rated the Eden Park crowd as the world's best...when it comes to crowd abuse.

The columnist/commentator told his readers in The Times that the ground in Auckland was in his top three of most hostile venues, alongside Sabina Park in Jamaica and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"New Zealand is a gentle country, its people are lovely, but during a one-day international, Eden Park is transformed into a bear pit," he said.

"Once, I found myself fielding down at third man and the abuse I received was worse than anywhere else (captains, of course, have the luxury of not fielding on the boundary, a benefit I availed myself of next time we visited). I also had a pint of something wet (dare not think what was in it) thrown at me."


Atherton played a couple of one-day games and a test at Eden Park during the 1990s. He has become one of the game's most respected broadcasters since retiring in 2001.

Atherton is not the first visiting cricket captain to turn the tables on New Zealand crowds. In a 2004 column, South Africa's Graeme Smith described Hamilton as a "hillbilly city".

"The spectators appear marginally more rough and ready than at other venues and they clearly pride themselves on their turn of phrase," he wrote.