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Fans urged to lay off Aussie cricketers

By Greg Buckle 21/02/2006 06:15:45 PM Comments (0)

South African cricket chief Gerald Majola has pleaded with fans to give Ricky Ponting's men a sporting reception in their six-week tour which kicks off with a Twenty20 match this weekend.

Australia's one-day squad has arrived in Johannesburg to a subdued reaction with no incident although a small number of police were on hand in case of trouble.

Players happily signed autographs but Johannesburg newspaper The Star said some had declined media interview requests.

"Fears that perhaps the Australians could face a heated welcome after the controversial racist remarks dished out to the South Africans when they recently toured Australia were unfounded," The Star said on its back page with a headline "No kangaroo court to persecute Aussies - Majola".

South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has told Wisden Cricketer magazine he wants fans to give the Aussies "a bit of stick" after what Boucher claimed were "nasty" comments directed at Graeme Smith's side during their tour of Australia.

But Majola made a pre-emptive strike for calm, perhaps seeking the high moral ground over Australian fans.

"We want to show that one can support your nation fully and vocally without resorting to racially abusing your opponents as happened to the South African team in Australia," Majola told The Star.

South Africa's players were racially abused by WACA fans at the first Test in Perth in December and after further crowd incidents the ICC launched an investigation.

Majola added: "Our icons are people like Nelson Mandela, who believe in building the rainbow nation by bringing people together through sport."

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds said he hoped South African crowds didn't get "out of hand".

"I don't know, we'll have to wait and see," Symonds told reporters at Johannesburg airport.

"If it gets out of hand, it gets out of hand, but hopefully it doesn't and we'll just enjoy the cricket."

Ponting is due to front a news conference at the team's hotel.

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