India superstar Virat Kohli wants “strict” action against any spectator found to have made racial slurs as the fallout from the SCG Test drama continues.
- Kohli said the incident needs to be looked at with “absolute urgency and seriousness”
- He was one of several Indian players to speak up on the matter overnight
- Australia coach Justin Langer also said he was upset and disappointed by the situation
India made an official complaint to the ICC on Saturday night over alleged comments made to Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah on day three.
The situation then escalated further on Sunday when Siraj claimed more abusive comments had been made to him just before tea, stopping play for eight minutes.
The halt in play brought the issue to a head, with NSW Police and Cricket Australia launching separate investigations into the second incident.
“Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable,” Kohli tweeted.
“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.
“The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once.”
Cricket Australia interim chief executive Nick Hockley told ABC Sport it was taking the allegations seriously.
“Well, the first thing I’ll say is that discrimination of any form is totally unacceptable and has no place in cricket,” he said.
“Cricket should be a great unifier.
“We are taking it very seriously and trying to establish the facts with the help of the SCG and NSW police.”
Cricketers, leaders respond to racism claims
While back home awaiting the birth of his child, captain Kohli was one of several India players to speak on the incident.
Injured quick Mohammed Shami labelled the ongoing issue as “disappointing” and also called for “strict” action.
Veteran Ravichandran Ashwin wants the matter to be dealt with using an “iron fist” and said the abuse of India players had been an issue his whole career in Sydney.
“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.
“And the 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.”
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the allegations were concerning, but said she did not think that Australia had “an inherent problem with racism”.
“I do believe it rears its ugly head from time to time and we always need to be vigilant because it only take as handful of people to really start a process that can be very concerning,” she said.
“And that’s why we have to be vigilant against any comments, against any actions, even though it’s conducted by only a very small minority of people, unless you put a stop to it, it can get hold.
“I don’t believe it reflects Australia or … [the] vast majority of Australians, quite the opposite. I think we have a proudly multicultural nation, one of the best in the world.”
The SCG Trust is also investigating the matters, promising life bans for anyone found to have made racist remarks.
Australia coach Justin Langer said he was upset and disappointed by the situation, slamming anyone who felt they could abuse players in any sport.
He also stressed the value of his own education in the past year, with CA launching the ‘Reflect Forward’ campaign to combat racism.
Pat Cummins and Tim Paine have spoken publicly on their push for better education on Indigenous matters, via reading or talking about the topic.
Australia’s decision not to take a knee last year in response to the Black Lives Matter protests was criticised at the time, however, they have started the new tradition of a barefoot circle between each series.
“My personal journey has been huge,” Langer said on Sunday.
“I’ve just read a book called the Fatal Shore about the history of Australia. I’ve read Stan Grant’s book, Australia Day.
“I’ve obviously watched the Adam Goodes documentaries a couple of times over the past few months.
“It’s something the team has been looking [at]. We’re exploring and learning and being educated.
“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.”