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Botham objects to ECB's idea of stifling Barmy Army

cricket Updated: Aug 08, 2009 12:47 IST

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Legendary England all rounder on Saturday took a strong exception to the Cricket Board's idea of stifling Barmy Army's expression against the Australian team and said it was like telling Indian fans not to exult on Sachin Tendulkar's shots or boundaries.

Botham said fans' support or banter was what exactly called the home advantage sans which the stadiums would have a "sterile atmosphere".

"There's been a lot of chat about fans getting stuck into the Aussies in the Test matches - it's called home advantage," Botham wrote in his column in Daily Mirror today.

"What do people expect from the crowd? They are England fans and it is fair to expect them to be with the home team and against the away team. That's the same everywhere around the world.

"Each crowd has their own way of going about it. Telling the England fans to keep a lid on their songs and banter is like telling the Indian fans to keep it quiet when Sachin Tendulkar walks out to bat or hits a boundary," he said.

England and Wales Cricket Board has advised the Barmy Army to refrain from booing the Australians, especially their captain Ricky Ponting, who was targeted at the Edgbaston ground in Birmingham during the third Test where he emerged as the highest Test run getter for his country, surpassing Allan Border.

"What you don't want is a sterile atmosphere. Who wants to see it go too far the other way and have a ground with no atmosphere? It would be like playing football behind closed doors - rubbish," Botham said.

The former England player did not feel fans were erring in the ongoing Ashes and that Ponting was bothered by the Edgbaston crowd.

"Ricky Ponting couldn't care one iota whether some fan gives him a boo when he goes out to bat, you'll find he's got much more on his plate to worry about than that.

"The booing isn't a massive issue because I don't think it is malicious. Ponting is one of the greats and it could well be the last time any of us get to see him bat on our shores and that is something to bear in mind.

"If it got to be serious abuse then that's not something to tolerate, but I don't think there has been much wrong at all this summer," he said.

"By and large the fans are well behaved and they should be applauded for supporting the side as well as they do. The fans are there to enjoy themselves. They pay their money to go and watch the cricket and with that comes a bit of banter which makes for a cracking atmosphere," he added.