India's captain Ajinkya Rahane (C) and his teammate Mohammed Siraj (R) speak to the umpire as the game was halted after racial remarks were made by the spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on January 10, 2021
India's captain Ajinkya Rahane (C) and his teammate Mohammed Siraj (R) speak to the umpire as the game was halted after racial remarks were made by the spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on January 10, 2021
AFP

Following the reported incidents of racism during the ongoing third Test match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the cricketing fraternity has come together to condemn the acts of racist abuse by the crowd at the venue.

Former cricketer VVS Laxman slammed crowd racism in a tweet. "Very unfortunate to see what's happening at SCG. There is no place for this rubbish. Never understood the need to yell abuse at players on a sporting field. If you're not here to watch the game and can't be respectful then please don't come and spoil the atmosphere," Laxman said.

Former Australian cricketers Mike Hussey and Shane Warne also condemned such acts of racism. "It's terrible behaviour and I can't believe it's still happening in this day and age. They should be banned for life from coming to the cricket," Hussey told Fox Cricket.

"The Indians have come here to our shores to entertain us, play some great cricket, we should be so grateful that we can watch some live sport. To treat the players like that is unacceptable," he added.

Agreeing with Hussey, Warne said the allegations were particularly worrying given the events of the past one year, which have seen a global push for racial equality.

"Disgraceful to be honest, absolutely disgraceful," Warne said. "Should never happen, especially what's happened in the last 12 months or so with everything else around the world. Let's hope they come down heavy and find the culprits," he added.

Former Indian swashbuckling batsman Virender Sehwag termed the incident "very unfortunate" and said they are "spoiling the vibes of a good Test series".

Harbhajan Singh, on the other hand, stated that he himself heard many things on the field while playing in Australia about him, his religion and his colour.

"I personally have heard many things on the field while playing in Australia about me, my religion, my colour and much more. This isn't the first time the crowd is doing this nonsense. How do you stop them??? #AUSvIND," tweeted Harbhajan.

The incidents of racial abuse revived memories of the infamous 'Monkeygate' episode during the 2007-08 series.

Incidentally, that controversy too flared up during the Sydney Test when Andrew Symonds claimed that Harbhajan hurled the racist slur at him multiple times.

However, the Indian off-spinner, who denied the charge, was cleared after a hearing on the matter.

Regular captain Virat Kohli also strongly condemned the reported incidents. Taking to Twitter, Kohli -- who is in India for the birth of first child -- said that strict action should be taken against the offenders to set things straight.

"Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary lines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It's sad to see this happen on the field," Kohli said.

Kohli was also at the receiving end of some abuse during the 2011-12 Test series and had copped criticism for responding to it with an obscene gesture towards the crowd.

"The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once," he added.

Siraj, still grieving the death of his father a little over a month ago, was called a "Brown Dog" and "Big Monkey" from the SCG stands, BCCI sources told PTI.

The 26-year-old, on his maiden tour Down Under, followed the protocol and promptly went up to his skipper Ajinkya Rahane and the on-field umpires, who halted play for about 10 minutes and called in the security, which evicted six people.

This was after the bowler and his senior pace partner Jasprit Bumrah were abused by a drunk man on Saturday. The BCCI has already complained about it to ICC match referee David Boon.

"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," said Sean Carroll, Cricket Australia's Head of Integrity and Security, in a press release affirming zero tolerance to racism.

"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 (New South Wales) Police," he added.

In Dubai, the ICC also issued a statement, condemning the turn of events and seeking an action taken report from CA.

Australia coach Justin Langer expressed his disgust too, calling racism one of his greatest pet hates.

"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, disappointed that racial abuse has overshadowed the engaging cricket that has been played in the match.

Australia looked on course for a victory after setting the visitors a target of 407 on Sunday. At stumps, India were two down for 98.

The series currently locked 1-1 and the finale is scheduled in Brisbane from Januaty 15.

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