As his team get ready for an extended English summer, Australia's coach Justin Langer has warned his team to not engage in a verbal battle with the famous Barmy Army. While talking to the media, the former Test opener revealed how disconcerting this travelling group of English supporters can be. Mentioning his own experience of being mocked by them, he narrated an incident from the Melbourne Test of 2002/3 series.
The background to it were the repeated calls of no-ball from the Barmy Army members during Brett Lee's spells, something that the left-handed batsman took exception to. Being shorter than most other members of the Aussie team, he got ridiculed for his height in return.
"I just got 250 (and) so I walked in. I think I'm Viv Richards (and) I feel like I've got the gold chain and the chest out and like I'm the king. I (had) made one comment about the Barmy Army because I was sticking up for Brett Lee. Then they start singing the song about the seven dwarfs, so you don't mess with the Barmy Army," Langer said.
Mitchell Johnson's experience
Nobody knows the pain and anguish that the Barmy supporters can cause to opposition players better than Mitchell Johnson. Before he immortalised himself with a spectacular display of hostile fast bowling in the 2013/14 Ashes in Australia, he had to overcome a tough period of self-doubt and mental affliction. The travails of the left-arm pacer started during England's previous Ashes tour to Australia.
Johnson had bowled his team to victory in the third Test of the 2010/11 series at his favourite ground Perth with a brilliant exposition of swing bowling. But what followed were two humiliating innings defeat for Australia where the English batsmen ground the Aussies into dust.
Johnson was one of the big victims and endured a miserable time. His anguish reached their peak when he walked out to bat on the final day of the series with the English team singing a derogatory song about his erratic bowling and which contained a profanity. Johnson was bowled on the first ball by part-timer Paul Collingwood and later admitted that the song had scarred him.
Langer understands this and wants the present side to not respond at all to the provocations of this group of English supporters. However, he also displayed some admiration for their loyalty to the English side. "One thing I respect about the Barmy Army (is that) through thick and thin, they always barrack for the England cricket team. We're never going to be best friends but I'll never argue with the Barmy Army again. The songs are humiliating," a candid Langer admitted.
The Australians are supposed to defend their World Cup title as well as the Ashes. With the sandpaper-gate scandal still fresh in people's minds and both Steve Smith and David Warner back in the team, the English crowd are expected to give the Aussies a tough time. If things don't go right, it could be a very long summer for them.