Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday condemned the harsh treatment meted out to batsman Steve Smith, who was subjected to booing by the Lord's crowd during the second Ashes Test which ended in a tense draw.
Smith had to leave the field on Saturday after he was struck on the neck by a 92.4 mph delivery from England pacer Jofra Archer, which knocked him to the ground.
Smith returned to the crease 40 minutes later, before being dismissed for 92. While many fans offered him a standing ovation, an audible contingent booed at and jeered Smith both times, when he was withdrawn and when he returned.
"A draw for the second Test but it was a total Ashes foul for the crowd at Lord's to boo Steve Smith," Morrison posted on Facebook.
"His performance on the pitch during his return to Test Match cricket in the UK demands nothing other than respect," he added.
The Australian PM further termed Smith "a champion" and said he is expecting the 30-year-old to answer his "hecklers" with bat and ball in hand to bring home the Ashes.
"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," said Morrison.
Earlier, former Australian cricketers also condemned the behaviour of the Lord's crowd.
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), in a one of its kind penalty, also ejected one of its members after he sledged Smith in the famed Long Room of the pavilion while he was walking off the field after he got out scoring 92 in the first innings. According to a report in news.com.au, the unidentified member called the former Australian skipper a "cheat and a disgrace" as he made his way back to the dressing room.
Barmy Army, England's supporting group, however, issued a statement saying they were not involved in the booing at Lord's.
"We are not at Lord's and we are not booing Steve Smith. He took a horrible blow to the head, and we wish him the best in his recovery," they tweeted.