Dealing with Crowd Abuse: Steven Smith’s Advice to Hardik Pandya During IPL 2024

 Steven Smith shared valuable insights on handling crowd abuse, particularly in the context of Hardik Pandya facing booing and heckling from fans during the IPL 2024 season.

“Being in India and a star Indian player, to be in that position is certainly something he wouldn’t have experienced”

Dealing with Crowd Abuse: Steven Smith’s Advice to Hardik Pandya During IPL 2024

Hardik Pandya should just “block out” the taunts and insults he has been receiving from supporters during the IPL thus far, according to Steven Smith.

Smith, who was the subject of continuous jeers throughout the world a few years earlier due to his involvement in the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering incident, stated that Hardik required the backing of his teammates at the Mumbai Indians, particularly Rohit Sharma, whom Hardik replaced as captain prior to the 2024 Indian Premier League after an 11-year tenure.

“I’d try and just say, to block it out, it’s all irrelevant,” Smith stated. Nobody outside of you is aware of your struggles. There’s nobody in that changing room [from the outside].”

After Smith admitted to “leadership failure” in the Newlands Test, Cricket Australia imposed him a year-long ban. Smith was also made to “step down” as captain of the Rajasthan Royals for the 2018 Indian Premier League. He claimed he had dismissed the heckling he had encountered as “white noise,” citing instances during the 2019 ODI World Cup in England where spectators yelled “cheat.”

Can Hardik, however, suffer any negative effects from the taunts from fans and the experts’ criticism of his captaincy during the Mumbai Indians’ consecutive IPL 2024 losses?

Smith hypothesized that Hardik might have been taken aback by the ovation, given that the supporters do not frequently jeer India’s best players. However, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Ravi Shastri have all experienced it at different stages of their careers, so it is not unheard of.

Personally, I’m not bothered by it. It doesn’t concern me. I don’t listen,” Smith remarked. “You know it’s all just noise, but players do hear things, and everyone has the right to feel the things that make them feel the way they do.

Is Hardik [the man] affected by it then? Perhaps. It is conceivable. It’s unlikely that he has ever encountered something like it in his life. Therefore, I believe it’s normal, especially for an Indian player who is well-known and plays in India, to be in that situation where certain supporters are jeering you; it’s definitely something he wouldn’t have gone through.”

The Mumbai Indians’ start to the 2024 Indian Premier League has not gone well. In the first game, which took place in front of an almost sold-out crowd in Ahmedabad, the team fell by 31 runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had the highest IPL total. 

The second game was against Gujarat Titans. Smith acknowledged that he could see why the Ahmedabad fans had been so harsh on Hardik when he returned to the Mumbai Indians after leaving the Titans. He was unable to understand the “context” of the Hyderabad fans’ participation, though.

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Dealing with Crowd Abuse: Steven Smith’s Advice to Hardik Pandya During IPL 2024

Following his release by the Mumbai Indians prior to the 2022 big IPL auction, Hardik was selected by the Titans and named captain right away. Titans established Hardik as a great captain by winning the IPL in their first season and making it to the final in 2023. However, the Mumbai Indians pulled off a sort of coup last November when they brought Hardik back into the fold through a financial deal, the specifics of which are still shrouded in mystery. Hardik was made captain right away following it.

When asked if he had communicated with his predecessor Rohit, Hardik was evasive in his first media briefing response. This led to a negative reaction, including hateful trolling on social media.

After MS Dhoni had just departed as India’s white-ball captain, Smith was named captain of the Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017. Smith acknowledged that it was a difficult time, but he felt that Dhoni had been there for him the entire time.

“It was an enjoyable season and we had some success that year [2017], I suppose, which helped as well,” he stated. “However, MS did an excellent job with everything. He was encouraging and gave me every assistance he could. Obviously, he was fantastic behind the stumps. With his excellent perspective on the game and the many angles that occur on the field, he was able to arrange things and place players where they belonged.

“After losing their opening two IPL games, Hardik is going through a difficult moment. It’s significant for him. With five IPL titles under his belt as captain [with Dhoni], Rohit Sharma is stepping into enormous shoes, and his start hasn’t been great.

He’s currently facing some pressure, so it will be interesting to watch how he’s received when they play their first home game at Wankhede in a few days. There have been some boos that we have heard at the grounds, which has disappointed me. However, I’m curious to see how things are received in Mumbai. We are aware of Rohit‘s fame and the extent of his fandom within that stadium.”

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