Sydney: Australia coach Justin Langer has called the racial abuse incident in the ongoing third Test that saw a few Australia fans hurl abuses at Indians “sickening” and “a shame”.
He also acknowledged the proactive step that team captain Tim Paine took to talk and offer support to the Indian team.
When play was stalled for a while on the fourth day of the third Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground after Mohammed Siraj complained of racial abuse, Paine walked to the Indian team huddle and offered support.
Later at tea, the Aussie team sat in their dressing room and condemned the incident.
“We talked a bit at tea about what was going on. As hosts, we don’t want to see our visitors get treated poorly. There are different levels of that. We went to England last year and some of our guys felt it before (referring to Steve Smith and David Warner being called cheats). There’s nothing pleasant about it. I guess it (Paine walking to them) was show of support that we don’t condone really, really bad behaviour,” said Langer after the end of the fourth day’s play.
“It was great to watch, nice to have Tim out there when that incident happened. He is a class act as you know,” he added.
The Aussie team, which was notorious for sledging, has been trying an image makeover after the ball-tampering scandal that rocked them in South Africa in 2018. Also, with the issue of racism gaining ground this year following the Black Lives Matter movement, the cricket field has also witnessed many steps.
West Indies and England ‘took a knee’ while the Australians themselves made a barefoot circle ahead of the first Test to recognise the atrocities done to aborigines by the white settlers in the country.
“It is upsetting and disappointing. Anyone who knows me, I have said for years that it is one my greatest pet hates in my life that people who can think that they can come to sporting events whether it is cricket or any code and pay their money and abuse and say whatever they like. I have hated it as a player, as a coach, we have seen in different parts of the world and it is really sad to see it happen in Australia,” said Langer.
“It has been incredible cricket, been brilliant to watch on the field, great spirit between the two teams. It is a shame to see it getting marred by incidents we have been hearing today and last night,” he added.
The Australian coach, who is a former Test opener, said that he and the team have been educating themselves about the issue over the past few years.
“We had a brief talk a few months ago. The personal journey has been huge. I have just read books and watched Adam Goodes’s documentary on racism. We are exploring and learning and getting educated. The more educated you get, the more you learn, the more sickening when you hear of racial discrimination as has been alleged today.
“It makes you feel very sad that people are subjected to that. And when you start getting educated about what has happened in the history of Australia as the path I have been on personally and a number of the players are, you can understand why it is so hurtful.”