Ravi Ashwin says India players have experienced racial abuse in their current Test match against Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground.
Cricket Australia has launched an investigation after six spectators were ejected from the SCG on Sunday for alleged abuse, a day after India reported alleged racist abuse towards bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah.
Speaking to the media from Sydney, Ashwin claimed there were ‘nasty’ incidents at the ground in the past, but lamented that it has now allegedly descended into racist abuse.
India captain, Virat Kohli, who returned home after the first Test, tweeted his support for the team, saying: ‘Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary Iines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It’s sad to see this happen on the field.
Ravichandran Ashwin says he has experienced “nasty” behaviour from Sydney crowds in the past after allegations of abuse towards India players at the third Test.
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 10, 2021
‘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 has apologised to India for the alleged abuse, with head of integrity and security Sean Carroll saying: ‘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.
‘If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. 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 New South Wales police.’
The spinner said he first experienced this type of behaviour on his first tour of Australia in 2011-12.
‘If I go back to the first tour in 2011-12, I had no clue what racial abuse is or how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people,’ Ashwin said. ‘And people actually laugh at you when you get abused. There is another set of people just enjoying it. I had no idea what this was at all. Whenever you stood at the boundary line, you wanted to run in 10 yards to avoid these things.
‘As things have strode on, and we have learned more and more on tours, this is definitely not acceptable. Even yesterday when Siraj brought it up, Ajinkya, myself and Rohit got together and went to the umpire and did report it. Nowadays the boys are better equipped and aware. Even Siraj, who is new, does know that this is the line you cannot cross. It is a wonderful thing. It must be met with the way it was met.’
The International Cricket Council chief executive Manu Sawhney said: ‘There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable.
‘We have a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy in place that members have to abide by and ensure is adhered to by fans and we welcome the action taken by ground authorities and Cricket Australia.
‘We will provide Cricket Australia and the relevant authorities with our full support in any ensuing investigation as we will not tolerate any racism in our sport.’