LONDON (AFP) – Former England captain David Gower believes Stuart Broad can win over fans in Australia during the upcoming Ashes series if he follows the lead of David Warner.
Broad is set to become the England player, above all others, Australian fans love to hate following his controversial decision not to walk in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge this season.
England won that Test by just 14 runs and went on to take the series 3-0, with Broad producing a match-winning return of six for 50 in their 74-run fourth Test victory in Durham last month.
But Broad's decision to stand his ground on his Nottinghamshire home ground still rankled with Australia coach Darren Lehmann, even though Australians have traditionally refrained from walking and instead waited for the umpire's decision.
Former Test batsman Lehmann was fined by the International Cricket Council after calling on Australian fans to "get stuck into" Broad in the return series, adding he hoped the fast-medium bowler "cries and goes home".
Gower though suggested the best way for Broad to defuse any ill-feeling was to respond with a smile, much as Warner did when England fans made him their pantomime villain following his bar-room attack on Joe Root.
"It will be interesting to see how it does work," Gower said Tuesday.
"He (Broad) might have a tough time to start with. Not everyone will be as crass as to just pick up on those words the other day and make life hard for him all the time.
"He is a good player and a tough individual but the best thing for him to do would be to take a leaf out of David Warner's book and just play with it.
"If you go down there and you are expecting to cop a bit, and whether or not Lehmann said what he said, they would cop it anyway because it is the nature of the beast.
"But if you can run with it and smile with it to win people over and perform well it would sort out any situation."
Gower, one of the most stylish batsmen of his generation, was speaking from experience, having scored five of his 18 Test hundreds in Australia.
"I did well down there and that is the key," he said.
"If you do well they will respect you. I loved playing in Australia because they are good crowds," the 56-year-old left-hander recalled.
"The initial thing is that Australian crowds want Australia to win as English crowds want England to win and there are always the elements within those respective crowds that may take it too far.
"But the great bulk of the cricket-loving public in both countries appreciate skill," Gower insisted.
"When you go down to Australia they don't want you to win but if you perform well and do it with a certain style they will understand that and appreciate that.
"The best way to cope with the feeling that you might be in hostile territory is to play well and then you will find very quickly there are some very good people down there that really understand the game and they will applaud it."