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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Crowds key to Ashes, says Smith
Graeme Smith
Smith's South Africa suffered racial taunts in Australia this year
England's successful defence of the Ashes will depend on their coping with hostile Australian fans, South Africa skipper Graeme Smith believes.

South Africa endured a torrid time at the turn of the year in Australia and accused fans of shouting racist taunts.

The incidents led the International Cricket Council to introduce a new code of conduct on racism.

"How England deal with the crowds could be the biggest factor in the Ashes series," Smith said.

"The racism stuff was hard for us. Most of us enjoy banter - we had grown up in that environment - but I think the racism and some of the crowd behaviour in Australia was very wrong."

He also suggested England skipper Andrew Flintoff should find ways to get the Australians to focus attention on himself so as to give his team-mates time to adjust to the environment.

"As a leader in Australia, Andrew is going to have to carry a lot of heat.

"England is obviously going to be targeted a lot by the (Australian) media and the public, so how they deal with that is going to be crucial to their success.

"They've got to look at their team and decide who is going to handle the pressure best and that's probably the skipper.

"It will allow the youngsters in the team to get on and play their cricket and not to deal with other issues as much."

South Africa lost the Test series in Australia 2-0 earlier in the year.

England's defence of the Ashes starts in Brisbane on 23 November.

England in Australia 2006-07
15 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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