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Australian cricket fans urged to behave

The fears of backlash have been strengthened by rumours of a text message doing the rounds asking Australian fans to show the Indian players how they feel.

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2008 23:56 IST

Anticipating a backlash from the crowd as a fallout of the Harbhahan Singh-Andrew Symonds spat, authorities here have urged the Australian fans not to "embarrass" their team by directing racial or other abuse at Harbhajan or his teammates, Australian media reported on Saturday.

With the one-day series between Australia and India starting in Brisbane at the Gabba Sunday, the racial row between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test has led to fears that the hostile crowd might take out their frustrations on the Indian team.

The fears of backlash have been strengthened by rumours of a text message doing the rounds asking Australian fans to show the Indian players how they feel.

Hordes of police and security staff will descend on the Gabba as closed-circuit cameras scan the ground for any hint of trouble, including offensive signs or posters.

Queensland Cricket chief executive Graham Dixon, who has been involved in daily meetings on the issue, said security was on a similar footing to last year's Ashes summer.

"We think we have turned the corner with crowd behaviour, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on things. Security was high for the Ashes, and it certainly hasn't gone down.

"Fans should remember that the Australian players wouldn't want to be embarrassed by poor crowd behaviour," he was quoted as saying in the Herald Sun.

The Gabba has been a flashpoint for trouble in the past, such as in 2003 when the crowd with relentless chants of "monkey" and "chucker" taunted Muthiah Muralitharan.

In 2006 South African players Makhaya Ntini, Garnett Kruger, Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince also reported they were taunted with racial gibes while warming up at the Gabba.

Stadium organisers have been repeatedly reminded of their obligations to ensure games are largely free of trouble. Test and one-day international venues around the country are also on notice from the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has passed strict laws giving it the power to ban any troublesome venue. The venues all signed up to a new crowd behaviour policy before the season.