Calling English fans and players 'Pommy bastards' during the Ashes tour of Australia later this year has been ruled perfectly acceptable by the ruling body of the sport in the country. Cricket Australia said home team fans who used the insult would not be ejected from grounds and nor would English supporters who called Australian spectators or players 'convicts'. The issue arose after reports that South African players were racially abused by Australian fans, who called them kaffirs and kaffir boeties [brothers of blacks], during matches in December and January. The International Cricket Council, based in Dubai, said this week Australia had a 'grave problem' with crowd behaviour and that among the players who were insulted were Herschelle Gibbs, Shaun Pollock and Boeta Dippenaar. Asked if Australian fans might be expelled for yelling 'Pommy bastard' in the Ashes tour, which begins in November, Cricket Australia said the insult could not be compared with racial vilification on the basis of a player's skin colour. 'Our position is that to even discuss the expression 'Pommy bastard' in the same breath as the racism faced by the South Africans trivialises the whole issue,' Cricket Australia's spokesman, Peter Young, said. 'Racism is where people feel sick to the pit of their stomach that they have been vilified because of their racial origin. We are not going to be chucking people out for saying 'Pommy bastard'. In Australia bastard is used as a form of endearment - 'G'day you old bastard', that kind of thing. It's just not in the same league as other racist taunts,' Young said. At least 10,000 English cricket fans, led by the Barmy Army, are expected to journey Down Under from November to February, when Australia will try to reclaim the Ashes after England's spectacular victory last year. The debate recalled a story from the controversial Bodyline series of 1932-33, when the English captain, Douglas Jardine, reportedly complained to his opposite number, Bill Woodfull, that an Australian player had called him a bastard. Scanning the Australian dressing room, Woodfull asked his team: 'Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?' The origins of the word 'Pom' are obscure. One theory has it that it derives from the initials sewn into convicts' shirts, POHM, or Prisoner of Her Majesty. Another suggestion is that it is an abbreviation of pomegranate, a reference to the complexions of early British settlers. Legend has it that during the 1980s a drive-in safari park in Queensland reportedly displayed a sign which read: 'Adults $10, children $5, Pommies on bicycles admitted free'.