With investigations ongoing into the racial abuse complaints raised by the Indian team during the ongoing Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, R Ashwin has urged the authorities to deal with the things with an “iron-fist” and stressed that this was not the first time it has happened in the SCG.
“Look I’d like to point out something. This is my fourth tour to Australia and Sydney especially here we’ve had a few experiences [racial abuse] even in the past,” the India off-spinner said. “I think one or two times, even players have reacted and gotten into trouble in the past and that’s not because of the player, it is actually because of the way the crowd has been speaking. Especially the people on the lower tier of the stands, they have been quite nasty and been quite abusive as well.
“But this is one time they’ve gone one step ahead and used racial abuses. Like we already mentioned, there was an official complaint lodged yesterday and the umpires also mentioned that we must bring it to their notice as it happens on the field. And they’ll be able to take action. It’s definitely not acceptable in this day and age, we’ve seen a lot, we’ve evolved as a society. And sometimes I think this roots back to the upbringing and the way one sees. This must be definitely dealt with an iron fist and we must make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
While there was investigation underway about the racial abuse complaints raised by the Indian team on the third day, crowd trouble extended into the fourth day as well. Six spectators were evicted from the stands by the authorities after the on-field umpires and the security officials combined to take action, and with CA launching an investigation parallel to the one by the police.
Ashwin acknowledged he was pretty disappointed with the behaviour the players were subjected to. “Personally, I think Adelaide and Melbourne wasn’t as bad. But like I said, this has been a continuous thing at Sydney,” he pointed out. “I’ve personally experienced this as well. They do tend to get nasty, I don’t know why or for what reason. Unless and until it is dealt with, people don’t find the necessity to look at it in a different way.
“In fact, I was quite surprised that some sections of the crowd continuously did it and there were not mates around them to pull them up for it. So that was quite surprising as well. It definitely had to be dealt with. And disappointing is actually a very, very mild word I must say.”
The offspinner, however, was satisfied with the eviction of the spectators and lauded Siraj for bringing the abuse to the notice of the authorities. “Yesterday, when Siraj brought it up, Ajinkya, Rohit and myself brought it up with the umpires and did report it,” Ashwin said. “Nowadays, the guys are better equipped. Even someone like Siraj, who has come in new, he does know that it a line someone can’t overstep and it was met the way it should have met. We must say that we were quite happy that those people were evicted.
“If I take myself back to my first tour here in 2011-12, I had no clue what a racial abuse is or how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people and people actually laugh at you, and another set of people laugh along with what is happening. It was quite a…. whenever you stood at the boundary line, you wanted to run another 10 yards in to evade yourself from all these things. But as things have strode on, and we went on more tours, we realised these things are not acceptable.”
Australia head coach Justin Langer termed the alleged racism incident as shameful, adding that such experiences are frustrating when the game has been played in good spirit.
“Sorry, it is upsetting and it is disappointing. It is one of my greatest pet hates in life, that people can think they can come to a sporting event, whether it is cricket or any kind and pay their money and think that they can abuse or so whatever they like. I mean, I have hated it as a player, I have hated it as a coach, we have seen in different parts of the world, it is really sad to see this happen in Australia,” he said.
“I think our series so far has been played in such great spirit, it has been incredible cricket, it has been brilliant to watch on field, it’s been really played in good spirit between both the teams. It’s a shame to see (the series) getting marred by incidents like that we are hearing about today and last night,” Langer added.