12 Jan 2021

Allegations of racism in Australian cricket crowds

From Summer Times, 11:30 am on 12 January 2021

The Indian cricket team has made a complaint to the ICC about alleged racial abuse hurled at players during the recent test match in Sydney. 

New South Wales police and Cricket Australia have launched investigations into those allegations. 

ABC senior sports reporter Tracey Holmes joined Emile Donovan on Summer Times to discuss whether Australian sport has a racism problem.

Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj Photo: Photosport

Initial complaints were made by the Indian team at the end of play on Saturday. But the umpires said they could do little once the crowd had gone home and told the Indian players to report racist abuse immediately after it happened.

The next day Siraj received more abuse and approached the umpires.

“He went up to the umpires and he said it’s happening again, I’m not taking it anymore you need to go and do something and there was a delay of about 9 minutes and those men were escorted out of the venue.”

The Australian team has been supportive of the Indian team, she says.

“The Australian coach, Justin Langer, he’s been on a bit of a personal journey in the last year because he came in for some criticism for not really understanding what the Take a Knee movement was all about.

Since then, she says, he’s done a lot of soul searching.

“And he’s done that with the Australian team, they’ve asked for people to come and speak to them, they’ve been reading stories they’ve been trying to understand how people who haven’t suffered racism probably don’t really understand what it feels like or how it impacts on people’s lives on a daily basis.”

Racism is a problem throughout Australian sport, she says.

“Does Australian cricket have a race problem? Yes. But so do many other sports, so does Australia generally, so do many other countries, we are not alone in this challenge, but it’s not a situation where we can be pointing to other sports or other countries well look they’re racist over there so that excuses us.

“I think it’s really time, especially given the history we have with our own indigenous people, it’s 2021 we’ve really got to front up to some of these issues and say enough is enough, we’ve got to understand stories from other perspectives.”

Yesterday, as the victory slipped away from the Australians, captain Tim Paine, who had supported Siraj following the abuse on Sunday, showed a less comradely side to his character, chipping away at the Indian batman Ashwin as he he hung in to try and save the test, Holmes says.

“I guess it was the pressure of a Test match that you are expected to win. And you see it slipping out of your grasp, when that tension started to boil over, and heart rates started going up, Tim Paine really didn’t surround himself in glory with his commentary from behind the stumps.”

Venues NSW, which owns the SCG and other venues throughout the state, says if found guilty of abuse the spectators will be banned from all the venues under its jurisdiction, she says.