Cricket chiefs and NSW police have launched investigations into allegations of racist abuse of the India team from sections of the crowd in the third Test, after six people were ejected and play halted for nearly 10 minutes on Sunday.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) probe followed Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah allegedly being targeted while they fielded by the boundary ropes of the Sydney Cricket Ground late Saturday.
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In a second incident, play was halted just before the tea break on Sunday when Siraj ran from the fine leg boundary towards the umpires, pointing into the crowd.
It was not immediately clear what was said as six men were removed from their seats by police.
One witness told the Sydney Morning Herald he only heard someone say “Welcome to Sydney, Siraj” but overnight reports from India paint a far different picture.
“Siraj was referred to as ‘Brown Dog’ and ’Big Monkey’ both of which are racist slurs. The matter was immediately brought to the notice of on-field umpires. They were constantly abusing Bumrah too,” a BCCI source told the Press Trust of India.
The Times of India newspaper said that the fans on Saturday had been drunk. “Bumrah and Siraj were called monkeys, w**ker and motherf**ker by the people almost throughout the time they were fielding,” it claimed.
Vision showing the crowd chanting at Siraj as he stood near the boundary has emerged but it’s unclear exactly what was said.
The dominant sound is several people chanting “Siraj” but others have alleged you can hear racial abuse faintly in the background.
Some believe the words “brown dog Siraj” are said by a male voice at the nine second mark of this clip but it could just as easily be something else and is hardly definitive proof.
But Indian journalist Bharat Sundaresan, who detailed the racist abuse he suffered on Saturday, said “Indian team management are convinced that the abuse dished out at the young fast bowler was ‘racist’ in nature on all three days of the Test”.
“It’s in their blood to look down upon us,” Sundaresan said he was told by a senior Indian cricketer after the Siraj episode.
Cricket Australia (CA) said a number of spectators had been interviewed by police before they were thrown out.
“While we await the outcome of the investigation by NSW Police, CA has launched its own inquiry into the matter,” said CA’s head of integrity and security Sean Carroll, calling the episode “regrettable”.
KOHLI, ASHWIN REACT TO ‘PATHETIC, NASTY’ BEHAVIOUR
India captain Virat Kohli, who is missing the last three Tests of the four-match series for the birth of his first child, tweeted that such racist behaviour was “pathetic”.
“Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary Iines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour,” Kohli tweeted. “It’s sad to see this happen on the field.
“The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once.”
Speaking to reporters after day four, India spinner Ravi Ashwin claimed he has been subjected to abuse from Australian crowds for almost a decade.
“This is my fourth tour to Australia, and … we’ve had a few experiences in the past,” Ashwin said on Sunday evening.
“If I take myself back to my first tour in 2011/12, I had no clue about what racial abuse is and how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people.
“And people actually laugh at you when you get abused, and other people laugh along when these things are happening.
“When I stood at the boundary line, you wanted to stand another 10 yards in to keep yourself away from these things.”
LANGER: ‘ONE OF MY GREATEST PET HATES’
Australian coach Justin Langer said such antics had no place in sport. “It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing,” he said.
“Anybody who knows me, knows I’ve said for years one of my greatest pet hates in life is that people think they can come to a sporting event, pay their money and think they can abuse or say whatever they like.
“I’ve hated it as a player, I hate it as a coach. We’ve seen it in different parts of the world and I’m really sad to see it happen in Australia.”
The ICC in a statement “strongly condemned” the reported abuse. “There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable,” wrote ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney.
“We will provide Cricket Australia and the relevant authorities with our full support in any ensuing investigation as we will not tolerate any racism in our sport,” he added.
Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), tweeted that “racism has no place in our great sport or in any walk of society”.
“BCCI and Cricket Australia stand together. These acts of discrimination will not be tolerated,” he added.
Cricket Australia earlier issued an apology to India and said anyone found guilty of abuse would face consequences, including bans, other sanctions and referral to police.
“Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour,” said Carroll.
“If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. “CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday,” he added.
“As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent.”
– with AFP