India veteran Ravichandran Ashwin claims he has been the victim of abuse from Sydney crowds for almost a decade amid allegations of a racial slur during the third Test.
Cricket Australia on Sunday vowed to investigate incidents of crowd misbehaviour, after two days of drama overshadowed a close contest.
India’s team made official complaints of racism after play on day three, before play was stopped for eight minutes on Sunday after claims of more alleged abuse on day four.
At this stage there is no suggestion the two incidents are linked, but it’s believed India will assert that they were again of a racial nature.
🏏 "If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket."@CricketAus has released a statement reaffirming its zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory behaviour. https://t.co/2feDuWyDpq #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/GU6Nq8dNCl
— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) January 10, 2021
At least seven fans were removed from their seats after Mohammed Siraj ran in from the fine leg boundary, alerting teammates before umpires passed on the message to security and police.
However Ashwin said this had long been an issue and it must be “dealt with an iron fist”.
“This is my fourth tour of Australia and in Sydney we have had a few experiences even in the past,” Ashwin said.
“The way the crowd have been speaking … they have been quite nasty and hurling abuse as well.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 10, 2021
“There is a time where they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuses.
“There was an official complaint lodged yesterday and the umpires said we must bring it to their notice as it happens on the field.
“It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. We have seen a lot and evolved as a society.
“Sometimes I think this roots back to the upbringing and the way one sees.”
CA on Sunday night labelled the abuse of players as “unacceptable”, and apologised to the Indian team.
We have launched an investigation in parallel with NSW Police following a crowd incident at the SCG today. Full statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/D7Qu3SenHo
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) January 10, 2021
International Cricket Council chief executive Manu Sawhney expressed similar sentiments, noting he was “incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable”.
“We will provide Cricket Australia and the relevant authorities with our full support … we will not tolerate any racism in our sport,” Sawhney said.
NSW Police interviewed several members of Sunday’s crowd before evicting them, and are also running their own investigation.
The SCG Trust have also vowed to ban any fans caught making racist taunts, after examining video footage.
Ashwin, meanwhile, said he had been made to feel “little” by Australia’s crowds in the past, again stating he believed the SCG was worse than other grounds.
“If I take myself back to my first tour in 2011-12, I had no clue about racial abuse and how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people,” Ashwin said.
“People actually laugh at you when you get abused. I had no idea what this was about.
“When I stood at the boundary line, you wanted to stand another 10 yards in to keep yourself away from these things.”
"Twice, Siraj chose not to accede to the racists and abusers, to say his piece and demand action."@Ben_Wisden on a display of courage from India's rookie quick that must not go in vain.#AUSvIND https://t.co/gzae68vcTM
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 10, 2021
Australia’s players made a clear move to act in solidarity with the Indian team.
Captain Tim Paine joined them in their huddle with a visibly upset Siraj while play stopped, while Moises Henriques walked around to the bay in question.
“It’s upsetting and disappointing,” coach Justin Langer said, extending his apologies.
“It’s one of my greatest pet hates in life that people think they can come to a sporting event … and think they can abuse or say whatever they like.
“It’s really sad to see it happen in Australia.
“The more you get educated and the more you understand, the more sickening it is when you hear of racial discrimination as has been alleged today.”