Traditional Aussie ‘sledging’ causes new fake ‘racism’ row

Indian cricketer Mohammed Siraj complains to the umpire about ‘racist’ abuse from the Sydney crowd this week.

Generations of cricketers have experienced the unique pleasures of touring Australia.

Among these pleasures is to experience a stream of banter, often skirting or crossing the borderline of obscene abuse, when fielding anywhere within shouting distance of the crowd!

Historically some of the ripest language would come from particular sections of Australian grounds where, shall we say, the less refined spectators were concentrated – among them “The Hill” area of the Sydney Cricket Ground, and Bay 13 at Melbourne – both of which were redesigned so as to spread traditionally raucous elements more evenly.

In the early 20th century one famous barracker was nicknamed ‘Yabba’: he has since been immortalised in a bronze statue at the Sydney ground.

An example of Yabba’s humour was directed at a nervous visiting batsman who had played and missed many times, but just about survived. Between overs this batsman put his hand down his trousers to adjust his protective ‘box’, only for Yabba to shout: “Those are the only balls you’ve touched all day!”

The legendary Sydney sledger ‘Yabba’, now immortalised in bronze

Yet at the same time Australian crowds have been quick to applaud outstanding displays by visiting cricketers, just as they will spot a weak or easily distracted opponent and mercilessly taunt him.

Sadly this Australian tradition has now fallen foul of the race police.

In this week’s third Test between Australia and India at Sydney, New South Wales police were called in to investigate complaints of ‘racism’ levelled at the Aussie crowd by Indian fielder Mohammed Siraj.

Spectator Rishi Aryan told the Sydney Morning Herald that the issue had been greatly exaggerated:
“All these boys were doing is a bit of sledging of the player on the outfield.

“First it was (Jasprit) Bumrah then they had a sledge against Siraj. They kept calling him Shiraz and all that crap. Next thing you know they said: ‘Welcome to Sydney, Siraj’ and then he got the shits.

“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.”

Of course it didn’t make sense – it’s yet another example of the race police using any excuse to step in. Had a balding player, or an overweight player been taunted, there wouldn’t be any fuss – and there seems no evidence of racial epithets.

The bottom line is that Siraj is playing only his second ever Test match: the crowd thought they could exploit this inexperience and wind him up. This has always been part of the game, and the only answer is to grow up and pay back the opposing crowd by winning the match for your team: that way you will also win the crowd’s (perhaps reluctant) respect.

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