A cricket fan ejected from the SCG on Sunday has spoken out in defence of the actions of fellow spectators.
Cricket Australia and NSW Police have launched investigations into alleged racial abuse from members of the SCG crowd against Indian players on the third and fourth days of the Sydney Test.
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Cricket Australia on Sunday vowed to investigate incidents of crowd misbehaviour, after two days of drama overshadowed a close contest on the field.
India’s team made official complaints of racism after play on day three, before play was stopped for eight minutes on Sunday after claims of more alleged abuse on day four.
At least seven fans were removed from their seats after Mohammed Siraj ran in from the fine leg boundary, alerting teammates before umpires passed on the message to security and police.
India claim the fans were once again racially abusing Siraj, but one of the men ejected has since spoken out to deny anything untoward was being said.
A BCCI source told the Press Trust of India: “Siraj was referred to as ‘Brown Dog’ and ’Big Monkey’,” while The Times of India reported that “Bumrah and Siraj were called monkeys, w**ker and motherf**ker.”
However Prateik Kelkar, who was sitting near the main group of fans under investigation and also asked to leave the SCG, says Siraj wasn’t racially abused.
“He (Siraj) turned around, flipped them the finger and then walked off to tell the umpire that he was racially abused,” Kelkar told 7NEWS on Monday.
“But there wasn’t a single racist word said ... I would’ve said something myself. I’ve experienced racism in Australia.”
Kelkar said he was ejected from the SCG after trying to defend his fellow spectators to police.
“We wanted to speak up because we saw they were getting pulled out and it was just not fair,” he said.
Witnesses insist there was no racist sledging at the @SCG yesterday and claim the accused spectators are the real victims. New video emerging on social media is only adding to the confusion. https://t.co/VsVpSNpKLZ #AUSvIND #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/ryRcYPuCtd
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) January 11, 2021
The Age newspaper also quoted spectators who reportedly overheard what was being said on Sunday, with claims none of it was racist in nature.
“All these boys were doing is a bit of sledging of the player on the outfield. First it was Bumrah then they had a sledge against Siraj,” one fan was quoted as saying.
“They kept calling him Shiraz and all that crap. Next thing you know they said: ‘Welcome to Sydney, Siraj’ and then he got the sh*ts. That was literally it. Then he walked off.
“I don’t know why (the police kicked the men out). Next thing you know you see police everywhere. It didn’t make sense. It was confusing.”
Another fan told The Age the spectators had said: “Welcome to Sydney, Siraj”.
CA and NSW Police continue probe into incident
Cricket Australia and NSW Police continue to investigate verbals from fans at the SCG, where past players expressed hope that Siraj's line-in-the-sand complaint could help improve crowd behaviour.
CA boss Nick Hockley said on Monday his organisation and NSW Police are still probing Sunday’s incident and that bans for an “indefinite period of time” could be handed out.
Venues NSW also has the power to ban fans from all venues under its umbrella.
“Cricket Australia and the Australian team don't condone any sort of abuse, especially racial abuse,” Tim Paine said, having passed that exact message on to the tourists during Sunday's delay.
“Really disappointed that happens when teams come to Australia and we want it to stop.
“Wanted to make sure the Indian boys knew we were also against it and we support them.”
Hockley will be keen to get to the bottom of the saga before the series finale starts on Friday in Brisbane, where a heated reception generally awaits most touring teams.
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