The global cricketing body has launched an investigation into alleged racial abuse faced by Indian players Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah during the third Test against Australia.
On Day-4 at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) late Saturday, the two were racially abused by some spectators because of which play was halted for 10 minutes and six spectators were expelled from the ground. Besides, Cricket Australia has offered an unreserved apology.
“Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour,” said Sean Carroll, CA’s Head of Integrity and Security. “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,” Carroll stated.
It was the second incident after a drunk spectator at SCG allegedly directed racial abuse at Bumrah and Siraj. The BCCI on Saturday lodged a complaint with ICC match referee David Boon. According to BCCI sources, Siraj was allegedly referred to as a “monkey”, reliving the infamous Monkeygate episode of the Indian team’s tour of Australia in 2007-08.
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Meanwhile, local media reported six people were expelled from the ground by the security during the nearly 10-minute halt in the on-ground proceedings.
“If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. CA is awaiting the outcome of ICC’s investigation into the matter reported at SCG on Saturday,” said Carroll. “Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our Anti-Harassment Code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.”
What had happened?
During the second session of the fourth day, India players huddled in the centre after Siraj, standing at square leg boundary, complained of abuse after being hit for two consecutive sixes by Cameron Green in his over. This prompted security personnel to enter the stands and look for the mischief monger before a group of people was asked to leave the stands.
The umpires — Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson– also intervened and were seen chatting with the players. No objects were directed at the players though.
NSW Venues Chief Executive Kerrie Mather said that CCTV footage was being examined to identify the miscreants. “We’re taking this extremely seriously. If those involved are identified, they’ll be banned from SGC and all Venues NSW properties under our act,” she said.
On expected lines, the Indians were not amused by the unsavoury incident involving their players before those responsible for it were evicted from the stands.
It came to light after Siraj, in only his first tour with Indian team, walked up to his captain Ajinkya Rahane and the on-field umpires and complained to them about what he was being subjected to in the same area behind him on Saturday. Rahane was then seen pointing at one section of the stands while talking to the umpires while security officers got involved.
On the third day of the match, Siraj was allegedly referred to as a “monkey” by a drunk spectator in one of stands, reviving memories of the infamous Monkeygate episode of the 2007-08 series. Incidentally, the Monkeygate episode also took place during the Sydney Test when Andrew Symonds claimed Harbhajan Singh hurled the racist slur at him multiple times. But the Indian was cleared after a hearing on the matter. On Saturday, the abuses were directed at the Indians while they were fielding during the Australian second innings.
Australia declared their second innings at 312 for six, setting India an improbable victory target of 407 to regain lead in the four-match series.
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne condemned the crowd’s behaviour as shameful. While commentating on the match he called it “absolutely disgraceful” and said, “Let’s hope they come down heavy and find the culprits.”
(With inputs from agencies)