London: Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and the Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has said that he will plead with the fans not to jeer at Australian captain Ricky Ponting during the fourth Ashes Test at Headingly.
Ponting was booed by the crowd during the drawn third Test at Edgbaston and the incident prompted Clarke to write a message in the Headingley match programme. The fourth test starts on Friday.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Clarke would call on the supporters to respect Ponting and all the players, while continuing their vocal support for the England team.
Clarke said that Ponting, the third-highest run scorer in Test history, has "earned the respect and courtesy" of the crowd and that the game "may never see his like again". The ECB chairman will ask the supporters to respect both teams, who have provided "exciting batting and Herculean bowling efforts".
The Australians have played down the issue so far and have been reluctant to criticise England supporters, probably in an effort to ensure the abuse does not worsen.
"It's part and parcel of the game now," Marcus North said. "A lot of us get booed out there. That's the home-ground advantage, I guess. The atmosphere when playing Test cricket here is great, even though, without a doubt, the crowd is into us. When England come and play in Australia, it's exactly the same for them.
"The atmosphere is great and it's a pleasure to play Test cricket in front of 20,000 England supporters who appreciate the cricket that's being played."
The Australian captain received a standing ovation at Edgbaston where he became Australia's highest Test run scorer. But Headingley has seen crowd disturbances before and the ECB is keen there should be no repeat. Yorkshire confirmed Tuesday night that security around the players' dressing rooms and where they enter the field will be stepped up in the light of events at Edgbaston.