Britain’s sports minister has hit out at England fans over their ‘distasteful’ treatment of Steve Smith.
Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been widely booed during the current Ashes series, as well as the recent World Cup in England.
RANKINGS RISE: Stunning Steve Smith act puts Joe Root to shame
However the treatment reached a disturbing new low on Saturday when Smith was booed after being felled by a frightening bouncer blow.
There was a standing ovation when the 30-year-old walked off the ground, most members of the crowd also stood and applauded when he resumed his knock shortly after.
However some opted to boo the batsman, and an MCC member was even kicked out of the Lord’s Long Room after abusing Smith.
According to a report by The Cricketer, the unidentified member called Smith a "cheat and a disgrace" as he made his way back to the Australia dressing room.
And UK sports minister Nigel Adams has seen enough.
“It’s distasteful and we have to remember that the Aussie players who got themselves into trouble have been punished and done the time,” Adams told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Smith, in particular, is a brilliant batsman and whilst of course, I don’t want him getting too many runs while he’s over here, he’s mesmerising to watch and as genuine sports fans we should be applauding him, not jeering.”
Scott Morrison weighs in
Adams’ criticism comes after Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison also publicly condemned the treatment.
“A draw for the second test but it was a total Ashes foul for the crowd at Lords to boo Steve Smith,” the PM wrote on Facebook on Monday.
“His performance on the pitch during his return to Test Match cricket in the UK demands nothing other than respect.
“He’s a champion and has handled the events of the past year with a real humility. I’m extremely proud of Steve Smith, and it’s not just because he comes from the Shire.
“The crowd could learn a thing or two from Steve Smith and I look forward to him answering his hecklers with bat and ball in hand to bring home the Ashes.”
Former Test wicketkeeper Ian Healy led the condemnation at the time, labelling the crowd’s behaviour ‘disgusting’.
Smith remains an immense doubt for the third Test, which starts in Leeds on Thursday, but hasn't given up hope of taking part yet.
Retaining the 30-year-old in the XI would be a huge boost to Australia's hope of enhancing their 1-0 series lead and retaining the urn with victory at Headingley.
Smith has scored 378 runs at 126 this series, while the other members of Australia's first-choice top six have combined for 406 runs.