During the just-concluded Sydney Test between Australia and India, cricket fraternity witnessed some ugly scenes related to racism.
Indian pacers, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, were subjected to racial abuse by the SCG crowd on the second, third and fourth day of the drawn Test match.
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While the cricket community condemned the racial abuse on Indian cricketers, former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has called for a tougher punishment, proposing that custodial sentence should be handed over to deter potential offenders.
“PCB and BCCI should come together… The whole world should [also] get united on this issue [racism] and say that whoever has been involved in racism should not only be fined but his entry should be banned in the entire ground and then he should be jailed. This should be done to convey the message to [the offenders] that you cannot discriminate anyone,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.
On Day 4, play was halted for a few minutes after Siraj complained of racial abuse from a section of the crowd, leading to expulsion of some spectators and an unreserved apology from Cricket Australia.
“Whatever happened with Siraj was really unfortunate. [But] I tell you Australians are not a racist nation. I’ve been there several times. I’d been loved the most, I’d been admired the most,” he added.
Fondly known as the Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib further stated that there were just a few elements or people who get indulged in such incidents and bring a bad name to Australia.
“[But] that does not mean that Australia is a racist country,.….they are the most friendly people I’ve ever come across. I loved them and they loved me back.
“Whoever goes there and plays competitive cricket, they love him; they adore him. This is what Australia is all about. This is the Australia that I know.
“But unfortunately, there are some idiots, who are going to come in the stadium; who are going to say names; make faces and give a huge embarrassment to the greatest nation of the planet, the Australians.”
Akhtar reiterated he can’t accept that all Australians are like that.
“There are one or two or three [individuals coming in the stadium]. Yes, there are people. They [also] called me names; they called me chuckle; they called me awkward,….they called me many names, but I know that the 99 per cent Australia loved me.
“But this incident that happened in cricket is not acceptable. Whatever you may say, it is just unacceptable.”
He also said that people from all countries should raise their voice against racism.
“We must apply strict rules. Say no to racism…..such an incident should not take place again. Whatever you are; whatever beliefs are you in; whatever the caste, colour, creed you are; keep it to yourself. [Please] do not hurt any other human being, especially in the sport.”
Shoaib Akhtar concluded by saying that Pakistan had always been against racism.
“We played the hardest cricket in the late 90s’ era. We made sure that we play aggressive cricket, we made sure we were at people’s faces but we never committed any inappropriate action, which could hurt anyone’s sentiments or beliefs.
“In the field, we’d been involved in several brawls but we never talked about colour; we never talked about caste.
“I’d been involved in brawls more than anyone else. There are many incidents where I’d a go at Steve Waugh, Jacques Kallis, Sachin, Sehwag and many other batsmen but never ever mentioned their parents’ names, never talked about their families, never talked about their colours and never talked about their castes. I never did that because I always believed that is wrong,” he remarked.