England star Jonny Bairstow has hit out at Australia's "strange" plea to fans not to boo their players, suggesting it smacks of hypocrisy.
Bairstow expects Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner to face plenty of stick from England fans as Test cricket’s oldest rivalry resumes later this year.
The pair were banned from the Australia team for a year over a ball-tampering incident in the third Test against South Africa in March 2018.
Having returned in time to star for the Aussies in the World Cup, they are likely to be the centre of attention as their side face England on Tuesday ahead of an Ashes Test series later in the summer.
Australia coach Justin Langer made pre-tournament pleas with fans to treat his players with respect, with India skipper Virat Kohli praised for imploring fans not to boo Smith when the teams locked horns in the pool stages.
However, England batsman Bairstow told the Daily Telegraph fans have a right to express their feelings towards players, within reason.
He doesn’t think the booing of Australia’s players makes much difference to their performance anyway.
“The fans will react however they want, particularly in the Ashes. It is a bit pointless pleading with them not to boo Smith or Warner,” Bairstow said.
“There is a fine line as well. There was a time not that long ago when the then-Australia coach, Darren Lehmann, was telling the Australian crowd to ‘send Stuart Broad home crying’.
“I am sure it was not meant maliciously, but for Australians then to say ‘do not boo these guys’ is interesting. It has to work both ways.
“I’m not saying it is right or wrong. But to have the mentality ‘we can do it to you, but you cannot do it to us’ is a bit strange.”
Bairstow was a team-mate of Warner with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.
Another solid Warner-Bairstow partnership fires us to a convincing 9-wicket win over KKR at home!— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) April 21, 2019
Hope you enjoyed the show, #OrangeArmy 🧡#RiseWithUs #SRHvKKR @davidwarner31 @jbairstow21 pic.twitter.com/J9NV6o1Zkk
Smith also played alongside Ben Stokes in the IPL, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer at Rajasthan Royals, providing an opportunity to lay any personal grudges to rest.
He added: “David Warner is an amazing cricketer. He studies bowling and was pretty generous with his knowledge when I played alongside him.
“Run-ins on the pitch do happen. England and Australia have a fierce rivalry (but) there are more important things in life than holding a grudge over what someone has said to you on a cricket field.”