Sydney: Seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin Sunday said racist abuse from the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground is not new and needs to be dealt with an iron fist after some spectators were asked to leave for targetting Indian players during the ongoing third Test against Australia here.
Speaking at the end of the fourth day’s play, Ashwin said the Indian players have faced racism in Sydney earlier too and “disappointment” will be a “mild word” to describe how they are feeling after young pacer Mohammed Siraj was subjected to racial slurs on two consecutive days.
“Look, I would like to point out something. This is my fourth tour to Australia. Sydney, especially here, we have had a few experiences even in the past,” Ashwin said at the virtual press conference to a query from PTI as to how the team is looking at the unsavoury incident.
In fact, without naming skipper Virat Kohli, Ashwin also referred to an incident where he was photographed showing his middle finger to the crowd during the of 2011 after being constantly abused by a section of the crowd.
“One or two times, even the players have reacted and have got into trouble in the past and not because of players but actually the way the crowd has been speaking, especially the lower tier of the stands.”
Local media reported that six people were expelled from the ground by the security during the nearly 10-minute halt in the on-ground proceedings during the fourth day of the ongoing Test. On Saturday, the BCCI lodged a complaint with the ICC after Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah were abused.
“They have been quite nasty and have been hurling abuses as well. But this is the time when they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuses,” the senior member of the team said.
Ashwin said that both umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson have told them to report any incident of racism immediately.
“Like we already mentioned, we have lodged an official complaint yesterday and umpires also mentioned we must bring it to their notice as and when it happens.
“It is not acceptable in this day and age when we have seen a lot,” said Ashwin.
He said in no unequivocal terms that this needs to be dealt with an iron fist.
“This roots back to upbringing and the way one sees, this needs to be definitely dealt with iron fists. We must make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Ashwin said that the team didn’t face any racism in the earlier Test venues like Adelaide and Melbourne.
“Personally, I think Adelaide and Melbourne weren’t as bad but like I said this has been a continuous thing at Sydney. I personally experienced it as well. They do tend to get nasty. I don’t know why or for what reason.”
Ashwin was surprised that the security personnel didn’t round up the perpetrators at the first instance and let it linger for a long time.
“Unless people don’t find the necessity to look at it in a different way, in fact I was surprised that a section in crowd continuously did and they were not made to surround or pulled up for it.
“They needed to be dealt with and yes, disappointing is actually a very mild word, I must say,” he said
Ashwin then went on to narrate some of his own experiences on previous tours.
“If I take myself back to the first tour of 2011-12, I had no clue about racial abuse and how you were made to feel small in front of so many people and people actually laugh at you and another set of people who laugh along when these things happen. I had no idea at all what this was,” he said.
“When you stood at the boundary line, you wanted to come in 10 yards inside to avoid all these things. As things have moved on and we have toured more and more, this has definitely been not acceptable,” he said.
“So when Siraj brought it up, Ajinkya, Rohit and myself, we all got together and reported the matter to the umpires. A new boy like Siraj knows, this is a line someone cannot over-step. We were quite happy that these people were evicted,” the eloquent Chennai man said.