Crowd behaviour February 7, 2006

Hit racism for six

Introduction | Peter English
62

Introduction | Peter English

Update from Rahul, February 11

The Wasim Akram illustration in my post has attracted more pointed feedback than it was intended to, so perhaps it is best to elaborate.

First, the ICC (now headquartered in Dubai). Leave aside for a moment its shortcomings and look at the composition. It is presided over by a Pakistani, vice-presided over by a South African and its technical committee, which looks after almost all the cricketing aspects, is headed by an Indian. Its 10 permanent members include four Asian nations, two African nations and the West Indies.



'The other form of racism which must be rejected is from the likes of Wasim Akram, whose analysis of every situation culminates in a white conspiracy' © AFP

Some readers have pointed out that Asians have been hard done by in behaviour-related issues, which may be a fair enough interpretation. Still, the panel of match referees is headed by Ranjan Madugulle. In the Michael Slater incident that some have referred to, the match referee was a Bajan, Cammie Smith. Clive Lloyd has been among the strictest referees over the past few years.

Neither at the time of making them, nor in the later inquisition, was Akram able to present a case for his comments, because it attacked not a single specific issue but a skin colour. Can you imagine the furore if a famous English cricketer was to go on record with the exact words: "I am against the ICC. The reason is it's run by all the browns."

A few months before the ICC outburst, Akram's response to Wisden's routine observation about Sachin Tendulkar trading aggression for accumulation involved making it a matter of the English trying to dish out a humiliation. Match-fixing is libellous territory so another little illustration must be withheld here.

It is true that he was a fab, fab cricketer, unjustly vilified for reverse-swing and glory be on him for both bowling it and fighting for its legitimacy, but does that mean we are to be stirred by a convenient and dangerous brand of populism? One reader has alluded to Martin Luther King in defence. Another might respond by citing Robert Mugabe. And by then we've lost the plot.

Anyhow, in the final analysis this is not about Akram. It is simply that the differences between points wich open minds and close minds are there for us to recognise and sift through.

Rahul's original piece

Among the many varied responses to Peter’s much-needed article, Kicking Out Racism, two types are particularly instructive. One is the defensive Australian, indignant that his society has been called racist on the basis of a small number of incidents. The other is the belligerent Asian who counterattacks. Both, in their different ways, miss the point that racism is a condition of the world not a nation. Having never been to Australia, I’ll leave others to hold forth on the first kind. A few points about the second.

A reader's recent email puts it this way: “It is not about colour that the Aussies keep taunting others. It is their history they like to erase: after all, great civilizations thrived in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Africa, [at a time] when Australia was probably populated by animals. Understanding this inferiority complex is the key to solving Aussie spectator and player behaviour.”

This notion of civilisation superiority regularly finds voice in India, too, and more so under provocation. It is as damaging to the bigger cause as the incidents in Australia because, from a position of superiority, it is impossible to introspect with any fruitfulness. And sometimes in India you do worry if there is any introspection: so silent is everyone on the issue that you wonder if they know if it exists at all.

At the Bombay Test match against West Indies in 2002 I was told by friends in the stands that the relentless racist abuse joyously hurled at the visitors by some sections of the crowd was sickening. I don’t know if there was any accompanying the crowd disturbance in three subsequent one-dayers at Jamshedpur, Nagpur and Rajkot – such was the thinness of the reporting on that aspect of it – but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was. The culture which some carry like a shield does after all demonise, in literal terms, the colour black.

Though it was said with a kind of affection, you have to wonder about the chant ,‘Sabse kaala ladka kaun? Kambli, Kambli’ (Who’s the blackest boy of all? Kambli, Kambli). Has anybody asked Kambli what he thinks of it? Or the other dark-skinned people in the audience?

The other form of racism which must be rejected is from the likes of Wasim Akram, whose analysis of every situation culminates in a white conspiracy. While hideous double-standards are often legitimately exposed, it is all too easy for the whole thing to degenerate into a dangerous populism. Take, for instance, his hopelessly uninformed point about the ICC being run by a cabal of whites.

When questioned on the television show Aap Ki Adaalat, Akram responded with: 'Jee, kya maine kuchh galat bola?' (Did I say anything wrong?). He received hearty backing from the sit-in audience. Sometimes we overlook the point that 'gora bh***dh' is really no different from 'black c**t'.

It is worth pointing out that in the past few months in Bombay, supposedly the country’s most cosmopolitan city, black South Africans have been barred entry to certain pubs and a white American to a temple. Despite the obvious confrontation involved, sport remains one of the great levellers, and often precedes the rest of society in the equalising. Fans must continue taking the lead. Quibbling over whose racism is worse is futile. The strongest possible statement Indians can make against the racism in Australia, or any other part of the world, is to confront its own.

In the meantime, a question that remains on the minds of many people. Last week the ICC informed the world that Muttiah Muralitharan has been reprimanded for showing the finger to a man who painted his face black and had the word ‘no-ball’ painted across his chest. Could they please tell us what happened to that man?

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket tour book Pundits from Pakistan and the novel The Sly Company of People Who Care

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JiggaDigga on April 7, 2006, 5:20 GMT

    Great reading, keep up the great posts. Peace, JiggaDigga

  • N on February 16, 2006, 0:23 GMT

    how is john howard being racist if he says murali throws? its his opinion that he throws the ball....it has nothing to do with murali's race. bishen bedi openly calls murali a chucker...is that racism? im indian and i think murali throws...does that make me racist? these are cricketing opinions and have nothing to do with racial discrimination. and someone has said something like "If the leader of a country behaves in such a manner, what do you expect from it's citizens?" that is a sweeping generalization over an entire country. and based on what? a leader, who follows cricket with a passion, saying murali throws.

    yes maybe he shouldnt have commented on murali's action...but how can anyone even related that to this article which tackles racism?this is the kind of over defensive mind-set of some of us asians which causes unnecessary tension.

  • Ullas on February 13, 2006, 5:51 GMT

    I completely agree that with regard to the Murali controversy, Australians have acted immature, fans, players and why, even the Prime Minister included.

    Now if we take a closer look, what happened to Wasim was in some ways similar to what is happening to Murali...they tried to take away from him what was rightfully his...reverse swing was an art and not ball tampering...obviously he has a reason to feel bitter...and I don't think everything he says ends at bashing goras...

  • Dave Angel on February 12, 2006, 15:41 GMT

    "I wonder if Akram's comments are so easy to be brushed aside. Can you name the last cricketer outside the subcontinent banned for a level 2 or 3 offence?"

    Graeme Smith.

    Now you name the last cricketer from within the subcontinent who was banned and didn't cry about it for weeks and weeks and threaten the whole world with legal action.

  • Jeff on February 11, 2006, 19:12 GMT

    What is this talk about "reverse-racism"? This seems to me to be an implicit justification. Racism is racism, whomever the target. Double standards are the greatest hindrance to this issue being resolved.

  • Adnan Yusuf on February 11, 2006, 8:42 GMT

    Yo Adrian(rocky), chill, I wasn't generalizing, please dont get offended. What I meant was that the head of a country is not supposed to make those comments. Lets leave them to the other guys. I have white friends also and btw you mentioned the wrong name, the comment you replied to was made by me Adnan Yusuf.

  • Sri on February 11, 2006, 4:30 GMT

    Nobody denies that rascism exists in Australia or for that matter, in other "white" countries. Also accusations of rascism does not make the accuser a rascist. This is especially true in ICC dealings, where there is a generally held perception that the ICC favors "white" nations and/or players. ( I really believe this to be true).

    Having said that, before we at start acccusing others, it might be worthwhile to examine ourselves to see if we do not exhibit the same behaviour. Frankly, as a South Indian, I have experienced more than my share of "Salaa kaala madrasi" remarks from Northies and certainly been treated with more respect as an individual in the US, rather than in India.

    Note - I am **not** accusing all Northies of sharing this attitude. The point is that there are enough idiots on all sides - North, South, White, Black - you name it. It might be worthwhile for authorities to start enforcing a "zero tolerance" policy at home first before looking elsewhere.

  • Rahil Khan on February 11, 2006, 2:50 GMT

    Here's one more form of descrimination: My comments never made it to the blog...

    Akram bashing is not going to absolve the true culprits of the bias.

    Way to go, cricinfo!

  • Prashant on February 10, 2006, 20:23 GMT

    Michael, there were no good old days. When Ranji, the great inventor of the leg side flick, was selected to play for England, a number of prominent English politicians and cricketers expressed their outrage. Similarly, when Ifthikar Ali Khan Pataudi toured Australia with the MCC team during the Bodyline series, he was a virtual stranger within his own team, and a target for barracking crowds who often yelled out "Hey, Gandhi, where's your goat?" and other such pleasantries. We must also remember that English cricketers were often puzzled about why a simple cricketing trip to South Africa led to the end of their cricketing careers. Cricket and politics don't mix they said, a fact they appear to have forgotten in matters concerning Zimbabwe. The only difference between racism in cricket in our time and in the so-called good old days is the fact that in its earlier incarnation, it was practiced by gentlemen over drinks in posh clubs, while in the modern age it is practiced by non-gentlemen, also over drinks in the stands.

  • Adrian on February 8, 2006, 12:33 GMT

    So, Wipula Fernando: "We all know what Mr. Howard said about one of the greatest spin bowlers ever. If the leader of a country beheves in such a manner, what do you expect from it's citizens?"

    You accuse all Australians of being racist because of something one person has said, then make a totally racist comment yourself. That sounds very hypocritical to me.

    I suggest you take a look in the mirror before worrying about anyone else. I am a white Australian with friends from nations as varied as Malta, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Greece, Portugal and abhor racism. I've travelled quite a bit and have found that although there are undesirable elements of racism and bigorty in most countries, the majority of people are friendly and don't care where you are from.

    The same applies in Australia. There are a minority of people who embarrass me as an Australian with their behaviour. The incident with the person painting themselves black and writing No Ball is just as sickening to me as it is to most of you. So how do you think it makes me feel to be branded a racist because of the actions of this idiot and a few others? You appear to be the only racist out of the two of us.

    According to your theory, I can label all the people from your country as racist. Does that sound fair to you? It certainly doesn't to me.

  • JiggaDigga on April 7, 2006, 5:20 GMT

    Great reading, keep up the great posts. Peace, JiggaDigga

  • N on February 16, 2006, 0:23 GMT

    how is john howard being racist if he says murali throws? its his opinion that he throws the ball....it has nothing to do with murali's race. bishen bedi openly calls murali a chucker...is that racism? im indian and i think murali throws...does that make me racist? these are cricketing opinions and have nothing to do with racial discrimination. and someone has said something like "If the leader of a country behaves in such a manner, what do you expect from it's citizens?" that is a sweeping generalization over an entire country. and based on what? a leader, who follows cricket with a passion, saying murali throws.

    yes maybe he shouldnt have commented on murali's action...but how can anyone even related that to this article which tackles racism?this is the kind of over defensive mind-set of some of us asians which causes unnecessary tension.

  • Ullas on February 13, 2006, 5:51 GMT

    I completely agree that with regard to the Murali controversy, Australians have acted immature, fans, players and why, even the Prime Minister included.

    Now if we take a closer look, what happened to Wasim was in some ways similar to what is happening to Murali...they tried to take away from him what was rightfully his...reverse swing was an art and not ball tampering...obviously he has a reason to feel bitter...and I don't think everything he says ends at bashing goras...

  • Dave Angel on February 12, 2006, 15:41 GMT

    "I wonder if Akram's comments are so easy to be brushed aside. Can you name the last cricketer outside the subcontinent banned for a level 2 or 3 offence?"

    Graeme Smith.

    Now you name the last cricketer from within the subcontinent who was banned and didn't cry about it for weeks and weeks and threaten the whole world with legal action.

  • Jeff on February 11, 2006, 19:12 GMT

    What is this talk about "reverse-racism"? This seems to me to be an implicit justification. Racism is racism, whomever the target. Double standards are the greatest hindrance to this issue being resolved.

  • Adnan Yusuf on February 11, 2006, 8:42 GMT

    Yo Adrian(rocky), chill, I wasn't generalizing, please dont get offended. What I meant was that the head of a country is not supposed to make those comments. Lets leave them to the other guys. I have white friends also and btw you mentioned the wrong name, the comment you replied to was made by me Adnan Yusuf.

  • Sri on February 11, 2006, 4:30 GMT

    Nobody denies that rascism exists in Australia or for that matter, in other "white" countries. Also accusations of rascism does not make the accuser a rascist. This is especially true in ICC dealings, where there is a generally held perception that the ICC favors "white" nations and/or players. ( I really believe this to be true).

    Having said that, before we at start acccusing others, it might be worthwhile to examine ourselves to see if we do not exhibit the same behaviour. Frankly, as a South Indian, I have experienced more than my share of "Salaa kaala madrasi" remarks from Northies and certainly been treated with more respect as an individual in the US, rather than in India.

    Note - I am **not** accusing all Northies of sharing this attitude. The point is that there are enough idiots on all sides - North, South, White, Black - you name it. It might be worthwhile for authorities to start enforcing a "zero tolerance" policy at home first before looking elsewhere.

  • Rahil Khan on February 11, 2006, 2:50 GMT

    Here's one more form of descrimination: My comments never made it to the blog...

    Akram bashing is not going to absolve the true culprits of the bias.

    Way to go, cricinfo!

  • Prashant on February 10, 2006, 20:23 GMT

    Michael, there were no good old days. When Ranji, the great inventor of the leg side flick, was selected to play for England, a number of prominent English politicians and cricketers expressed their outrage. Similarly, when Ifthikar Ali Khan Pataudi toured Australia with the MCC team during the Bodyline series, he was a virtual stranger within his own team, and a target for barracking crowds who often yelled out "Hey, Gandhi, where's your goat?" and other such pleasantries. We must also remember that English cricketers were often puzzled about why a simple cricketing trip to South Africa led to the end of their cricketing careers. Cricket and politics don't mix they said, a fact they appear to have forgotten in matters concerning Zimbabwe. The only difference between racism in cricket in our time and in the so-called good old days is the fact that in its earlier incarnation, it was practiced by gentlemen over drinks in posh clubs, while in the modern age it is practiced by non-gentlemen, also over drinks in the stands.

  • Adrian on February 8, 2006, 12:33 GMT

    So, Wipula Fernando: "We all know what Mr. Howard said about one of the greatest spin bowlers ever. If the leader of a country beheves in such a manner, what do you expect from it's citizens?"

    You accuse all Australians of being racist because of something one person has said, then make a totally racist comment yourself. That sounds very hypocritical to me.

    I suggest you take a look in the mirror before worrying about anyone else. I am a white Australian with friends from nations as varied as Malta, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Greece, Portugal and abhor racism. I've travelled quite a bit and have found that although there are undesirable elements of racism and bigorty in most countries, the majority of people are friendly and don't care where you are from.

    The same applies in Australia. There are a minority of people who embarrass me as an Australian with their behaviour. The incident with the person painting themselves black and writing No Ball is just as sickening to me as it is to most of you. So how do you think it makes me feel to be branded a racist because of the actions of this idiot and a few others? You appear to be the only racist out of the two of us.

    According to your theory, I can label all the people from your country as racist. Does that sound fair to you? It certainly doesn't to me.

  • marcus on February 8, 2006, 12:29 GMT

    I think some of you people need a lesson in genetics. So Australia was settled by convicts. So what? That has no bearing on what we are like now. Saying that is like saying that West Indians will always be slaves, or that 200 years from now all Muslims will be terrorists. Apart from this, can you say for certainty that some of the comments didn't come from 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation Australians? Of course not. So if you must take your hypocritical views, at least PRETEND to know what you're talking about.

  • A Rajmin on February 8, 2006, 12:28 GMT

    Ayaz has a good point - alcohol isn't the cause of racism -though it may well exaggerate the actions of those that consume it.I too was at the 1996 world cup final. Nothing was made on any T.V channel I saw of the extreme racism and threatening behaviour exhibited by a large minority of the crowd. Many many thousands were chanting racial abuse at Aravinda throughout his innings in what was a horribly threatening atnmosphere.

    I also agree with the Autralian though - we must be careful where we draw the line. I want to talk sport in the office and when socialising. I want to say "my team is better than yours" that's what sport is all about. If we draw the line too tightly sport will lose. Please lets be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Jonathan on February 8, 2006, 12:00 GMT

    An excellent and well-balanced article.

    However, banning alcohol isn't the solution (since racist chanting has also occurred in countries where the sale of alcohol at cricket matches is banned)

    Its just idiots who need to be banned from grounds. Alcohol just gives them the courage to voice their ill-informed opinions

  • Ayaz on February 8, 2006, 11:32 GMT

    I completely agree with Michael's comments. Pointing towards racist actions cannot be termed as "reverse racism". At some points, one might feel that the objective of the article is to close our eyes and move our heads under the sand and no matter what happens, withdraw our right to protest. I totally disagree with Rahul Bhattacharya's above article. If Akram or any pakistani/indian cricketer/umpire/match refree have ever been involved in any such behaviour that we usually used to get from Aussie/English cricketers/umpires ? If ICC and its match referees and umpires take harsh actions against subcontinental players and "gora" players ALWAYS get away despite being in same or similar conditons, why can't we point them out ? Lets there be no doubt that i would hate if i see subcontinental cricket officials ever pay them back with same racist coin. But other than that each and every racist action must be opposed on all forums. Like Akram did.

  • Humayun Q. Khan on February 8, 2006, 11:16 GMT

    I think your view on Akram's comment is not ojective enough. Surely he knows more about the sport than most people including yourself, so perhaps there is some legitmacy to it! Kindly do more research , such as that pointed out by Michael, before belittling great players like Akram so casually.

  • Varun on February 8, 2006, 10:55 GMT

    Rahul, you summed it up perfectly when you said "Having never been to Australia"...come sit on "the hill" at the SCG and then and write blatant rubbish like this. Its true to easily pick out on Indians who taunt the crowds at home. Its another when the red necks in Australia say it with malice.

    Don't generalise on Asians in Australia. We "counter attack" based on what we experience and till not take heed from a goody 2 shoes like yourself.

  • rahat on February 8, 2006, 10:31 GMT

    I agreed with your comments until the second to last paragraph and then agreed with the last paragraph. For all the fuss made about the supposed "racist" banters about the South Africans no one made a fuss about the dude painted in black to portray Murali. In the US (and I agree with this) this would've been considered the most racist taunt of all. I think it is all a political propaganda. Since South Africa can, they reported, claiming their history as the reason. Sri Lanka obviously has no such history and therefore are more sporting to these offensive behaviour. However, I am just a bit upset that a dimwit painted in black to represent a Sri Lankan, wouldn't kick up too much fuss while folks chanting stuff will get ejected and more (with some calling for lifetime bans on them). I am quite certain that we live in a funny world. Going to a stadia or a concert or a public gathering, I do not recall the last time I held myself back from saying something stupid. Those are the occasions to speak out, very loudly and stupidly. Where am I, at the church/masjid/mandir? In my opinion the South African players acted like sissies in reporting the incidents and as a nation it reflected poorly on the entire South Africans when they actually reported these incidents blaming Australia. What the hell is going on here? Obviously these white South Africans still have issues and they felt they can be "that much closer to black folks" by reporting such incidents and the black folks always naive in these incidents took up on it. But then again if they hadn't then they would be criticised from various corners of their country, I am sure of that. So, lastly I feel the issues were with the South Africans not the Aussies who chanted those banters. It breaks my heart to find that those blokes got thrown out of the stadia and may have been abused by cops for expressing themselves open heartedly in public. All this while a certain obviously racist white Aussie paints himself black to represent a Sri Lankan. Stupid and funny world we live in. All of the above is in agreement. Now the part I do not agree with, "It is worth pointing out...", what are you pointing out? You just mentioned something out of the blue, somewhat out of flow and provided no source and ended it right there. Maybe it's just bad writing?

  • marcus on February 8, 2006, 10:24 GMT

    This is a response to Anynomous.

    There is no logic behind calling the ICC racist, keeping in mind that the subcontinent is now cricket's major power base. As far as the ICC team selections went, that was more a matter of marketing than race; Vettori and Boucher are just bigger drawcards than Sangakara and Kumble, and people like Dhoni and Akmal were barely established.

    Apratim, I really do believe Waugh and Warne were only fined because they only gave pitch and weather info, while Azharuddin was banned because he tried to throw matches. But then, so was Hansie Cronje.

  • Rithika on February 8, 2006, 9:12 GMT

    I strongly disagree with aftab.Shoaibs action is erratic and anyone can notice that with naked eye.any one can now cheat ICC by bowling at slower speeds during the tests.But Shoaib can chuck when bowling those 150 kmph deliveries. Remember the south african bowler Botha was banned by ICC for chucking. The argument about Chappel and Akthar are irrelevant in this discussion about racism. This point has nothing to do with the current topic.

  • jayamrith on February 8, 2006, 9:06 GMT

    If the Aussie cricketers were really against racism they would walk up into the stands and give the offending spectators a talking-to. Embarrassment and shame often work when force doesn't. But then the Aussie cricketers ARE racist, they are no different from those vile spectators, I am sure if Andrew Symonds has a lapse in form he too would be reviled by the racists in the crowd.

  • My on February 8, 2006, 8:34 GMT

    I agree completely with those who have said let's just take a minute and actually hear what Wasim Akram is saying. He is a player I admire greatly and someone who surely has seen almost everything you could think of on and off the cricket pitch.

    Can someone tell me how Chris Broad, a white Englishman who went on a rebel tour of South Africa during apartheid has the moral make-up to be considered fit to be an ICC match referee? In my opinion, this make-up is reflected in the difference in severity of punishments he hands out to subcontinent players and non subcontinent players.

  • Raj on February 8, 2006, 8:06 GMT

    apratim, well said. rahul, answer these questions 1.Why are Saurav and Inzi and Sub-conti players readily reprimanded, fined, banned etc but it never happens to shane warne, who has this annoying habit of dissenting umpires decision openly. Surely, you have seen him getting away with murder, literally, 'scot-free', if you know what I mean - yeah mike denness and all. 2. ofcourse, you will now quote the johan botha instance. but before you proceeed, milord, remember that that useless idiot was stupid enough to proclaim that he modelled his action on Harbhajan. 3. Why does every other report mention shoaib's action even while praising him but Brett lee, who was also in the cloud initially, is never questioned for his action?

    Overall, if you really introspect, there is a anglo-saxon conspiracy to maintain their superiority.

    Last but not the least, when the goras were dominant in the ICC, they were imperial with veto and all. But when they lost that dominance,. they were clever enough to remove that veto ,w hich would have been india's today. I hope you will be alive to see the following: These things go in cycles so I expect cricket to be dominated by England and Australia in the far future and the ICC bonafide dominated by Goras without having to worry about indian revenues. Whent hat happens, you can be sure that the veto will come back and everything will be built around theier schedules and they will openly flaunt their racism. Just hope I can talk to you at that point of time - my name is Raj, remember. I said this first to you. When you see the naked self-serving racism of these gora blokes, I hope I can see your face then

  • VSOA on February 8, 2006, 7:57 GMT

    I wanted to point out a different aspect of this whole racism controversy, the lack of response by Australian press, Cricket Australia and the Australian team itself. I did not hear anything convincing from either of them. True they came out with isolated statements but nothing united or sincere. Players could have come more strongly with media publicity, Cricket Australia could have enforced strict rules to show that people responsible truly dont condone racism. Nothing would have deterred the racist few than seeing their own come out against them. It’s not just one ignorant Australian in the stand with his face painted with the words ‘No Ball’ but rather a rhetoric by the Australian media in general that incensed Murali.

  • Karthik on February 8, 2006, 7:34 GMT

    Hi,

    Someone was talking about the civilization and if you read the history of Australia, the initial migration was penal settlement. By the mid 1800s the majority of the population was convicts from Britain. This will explain what they have inherited and their boorish behaviour.

  • akr on February 8, 2006, 7:18 GMT

    I think the issue here is that the problem of racism/ sledging based on colour, crops up only in the context of a certain stadium/crowd bheaving a certain way- its incident based.

    But as Rahul says, the concern is not about a particular section of people, but the attitude that tends to pervade all of us as sports fans- one of myopia. Unless there is a concerted -worldwide- effort to create awareness and force the issue, we will only keep serving these small dishes for attention. Its the whole darned menu that needs to be looked at.

  • Nathan on February 8, 2006, 6:46 GMT

    In response to Asad, perhaps you should make an attempt to understand the culture that you seek to denigrate.

    Your comment 'What you see in Australia is disdain and disrespect for other cultures/races ...' is completely, absolutely and totally incorrect.

    The 'disdain' etc that is dished out has nothing to do with the fact that the other team is of a different race/culture. The disdain is due to the fact that they are another team, the enemy, irrespective of race/culture.

    I am a white Australian and I cop disdain, insults etc when I travel interstate to follow my football team. That's the way it is. Obviously, if someone says you're a kaffir or a black **** then that is racist and not acceptable. No one is trying to defend that behaviour. But being made to feel unwelcome or copping a few jibes is not racism, and people like Asad who seek to make out that it is are either deluded or being mischevious.

    As with the football example, the people who may have been baiting or insulting me all afternoon will be the same people who might chat politely with me at the bar after the game. They want to see their team win and try to make the opposition uncomfortable. They have no real dislike for me despite the insults they may dish out during the game. I accept that and find that the banter adds to my enjoyment of the game.

    There are aspects of other cultures I may not enjoy, but when I am in another country I live by their rules and way of life. So people who visit Australia may not enjoy the Australian attitude to sport, but they should show the same tolerance that I must when overseas. Racism is not acceptable, but in Australian society, banter, insults, disdain are all part of the game, and people who complain about this are being just as intolerant of our way of life.

    Asad, you would be well served to have some understanding of a topic before making commment on it, and in reference to 'anynymous at February 7', who seems to think reverse racism is OK if the offender has been aggrieved, how do you think many Australians feel being constantly called racists? My favourite players of all time are Curtley Ambrose and Viv Richards, my best friend comes from China and I have many non white associates, yet I continually have to listen to this crap about how I am a racist by virtue of being born in Australia. By anonymous's logic, being unfairly called a racist gives me the right to be racist!!

    There are no excuses but please lets discuss the issue realistically instead of using it as an excuse to air our own (often racist sounding, often imagined) grudges against Australia and it's people.

  • j2k5 on February 8, 2006, 6:30 GMT

    you earn respect, you dont get it by complaining. win the VB series on sunday sri lanka and watch how attitudes slowly change in the grandstands. winning a cricket match may not solve all of lifes problems, but right now the aussies need a bit of a reality check. as for racism, that may never go away but we can all do our rank best to change attitudes through our day to day actions. if you dont like racism, then dont be a racist yourself. if you want respect, earn it with performance on and off the field. a lot of the time the inferiority complex of asian spectators makes them more likely to call everything "racism" when indeed its just a case of their team always losing on australian pitches. these same individuals are quite content when their team wins and they're the ones abusing the aussies. lets not confuse "gamesmanship" for racism comrades! if you lose all the time of course you're not going to get any respect.

    That's called life.

  • j2k5 on February 8, 2006, 6:30 GMT

    you earn respect, you dont get it by complaining. win the VB series on sunday sri lanka and watch how attitudes slowly change in the grandstands. winning a cricket match may not solve all of lifes problems, but right now the aussies need a bit of a reality check. as for racism, that may never go away but we can all do our rank best to change attitudes through our day to day actions. if you dont like racism, then dont be a racist yourself. if you want respect, earn it with performance on and off the field. a lot of the time the inferiority complex of asian spectators makes them more likely to call everything "racism" when indeed its just a case of their team always losing on australian pitches. these same individuals are quite content when their team wins and they're the ones abusing the aussies. lets not confuse "gamesmanship" for racism comrades! if you lose all the time of course you're not going to get any respect.

    That's called life.

  • Shiva on February 8, 2006, 6:30 GMT

    IN Aus Racism is on n off the field people in the sub continent in Aus do no get the respect they deserve one feels.

  • Russel on February 8, 2006, 6:28 GMT

    Great article Rahul, but I'd like to add something: not only is Australia a new culture, but their gene pool primarily derives from convicts - something that may help explain other comments on this page. No wonder they are insecure about their heritage and have to take it out on others.

  • DYD on February 8, 2006, 6:24 GMT

    Wasim Akram is/was a great bowler... as to how he becomes a racist by pointing out the obvious is beyond my understanding. I would agree that calling Dillion a black hobo is racism, but Wasim is just stating what almost everyone in the subcontinent already knows. We should stand by him and not against him.

  • Ajmal on February 8, 2006, 6:04 GMT

    Nice article. I think racism is the result of mixing between arrogance and ignorance. Becasue of this we hate or dont like people who are not like our own, whether it is race, religion, nationality or even less powerful in any category. Just because USA is more powerful they can ignore, attack and decide their own about who to invade or not. The same logic can be applied to India also.Just because India is more powerful financially in the cricket they are acting like an arrogant one who does not want to play with team like Bangladesh. They are picking and choosing who they want to play. Did they forget their own history!! We never learn. But one lesson we can not afford to loose is History is kinda like a circle. Once powerful become powerless eventually.

  • Apratim on February 8, 2006, 5:21 GMT

    I wonder if Akram's comments are so easy to be brushed aside. Can you name the last cricketer outside the subcontinent banned for a level 2 or 3 offence? Why is it that the match referees are always so hard on cricketers from the subcontinent and go so easy on the others? Why are the Mark Waughs and Shane Warnes not banned by the ICC even after proven involvements in match fixing whereas some others serve life bans? Why Souravs and Inzamams are handed out fines/bans for the same offence for which the Australians are only warned?

    It is so easy to sweep allegations under the carpet and feel comfortable. (And believe me, ICC is very adept in that, look at Zimbabwe if you do not believe me!) But anyone with who is even half willing to see can feel the difference in treatment.

  • joemc on February 8, 2006, 4:45 GMT

    "A reader's recent email puts it this way: “It is not about colour that the Aussies keep taunting others. It is their history they like to erase: after all, great civilizations thrived in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Africa, [at a time] when Australia was probably populated by animals. Understanding this inferiority complex is the key to solving Aussie spectator and player behaviour.”"

    That's an astoundingly stupid and ignorant comment. Australia has been home to people for 60 000 years, and the Koori culture goes back that far. That's 50 000 years before the pyramids were built. We had economies based on trade, boats that were capable of travelling 10 kms out to sea, and an extremely rich history and culture

    Or were we just 'animals' because we didn't build castles and temples a few thousand years BC?

    I am taken back that the same people who throw hissyfits and complain about 'white conspiricies' see nothing wrong with making comments like the one above

  • Nataraj Murugan on February 8, 2006, 4:44 GMT

    As and Indian who has lived in the West and now in India, I find that even though it is fashionable to criticize "goras', the same 'Indian' will be all over himself to please the 'white tourists' who visit here! Racism can only be hurtful when it is from a so-called superior (white) race towards an "inferior" (coloured) race. On the subject of Mr.Akram, he seems to have no idea of facts when he airs his views. It was embarrassing to watch him on a TV news channel in support of Ganguly going on about how Chappell should not discuss private matters in public as a coach! Well, Mr.Akram, the whole world (except you it seems) knows that it was Messrs. Ganguly and Dalmiya who set the ball rolling..!

  • Adnan Yusuf on February 8, 2006, 4:39 GMT

    We all know what Mr. Howard said about one of the greatest spin bowlers ever. If the leader of a country beheves in such a manner, what do you expect from it's citizens?

  • Wipula Fernando on February 8, 2006, 4:11 GMT

    In response to the crowd behaviour in Australia, Murali is implying that he is doing a favour or sort of a service by touring Australia.

    Has he (and Sri Lanka Cricket by allowing him to make comments like this to the press) not missed the point here totally?

    One has to remind him that he is not travelling around doing a service to those countries, but representing his country and making his country proud for giving him the opportunity to be the world class player he is.

    If any action is to be taken, it should be by the Sri Lanka Cricket and the cricket team as a whole, as once did by the former Captain Arjuna Ranatunge. Perhaps the inactiveness and uselessness of the Sri Lanka Cricket has left Murali with no option but to retaliate with these inappropriate and immature comments.

    Can Sri Lanka Cricket at least provide him with guidance as to how he should make comments to media?

  • Michael on February 8, 2006, 3:59 GMT

    Well done Rahul. A balanced and beautifully constructed article that makes no attempt to level blame at any one country.

    If cricket can somehow be transported back to an era where it was a noble sport, played by gentlemen, we might be some chance of both players and spectators behaving in a more genteel and courteous manner in all countries. Despite being a passionate Aussie supporter, I must admit to being slightly ashamed that we've got a lot to answer for in terms of where the game is currently at with it's on-field behaviour. That fact cannot be denied. It's no surprise really that our spectators are behaving in like fashion. Let's hope the rest of the cricketing world can lead the revolution back to the good old days. I suppose pigs might fly too!

  • Ian on February 8, 2006, 0:59 GMT

    The difficulty is we know international cricket markets itself so much along nationalistic lines, that it fails to educate its customers about the difference between nationalistic support and the fair play implied in a sporting contest.

    All countries are at fault, and Peter English's article was erroneous in the way it linked racism at cricket grounds to the policies of the incumbent government. Comments made by Australian crowds now are chickenfeed compared to what one heard in generations past. The difference now is that apparently not only will "sticks and stones break my bones".

  • David on February 8, 2006, 0:26 GMT

    I agree with AOK. Ban the booze from cricket grounds, exclude intoxicated people from entry, and watch the behaviour change instantly. Sure, you may lose 5-10k people who wont come if there's no beer, but watch 50k more start turning up with their children knowing they can instil in them a love for the game rather than expose them to drunken fools and their obscene behavior!

    One other thing: there is no such thing as 'reverse racism'. Racism is racism and it springs out of fear or defensiveness mixed with an inherent sense of cultural superiority. Darren Lehmann's crude expletives are no more or less racist than prejudice-fueling accusations of white conspiracy from Wasim Akram. I agree that the best response to racism is not point the finger but look in the mirror. Change what you CAN control first, and make sure you dont become part of the problem.

  • G on February 8, 2006, 0:05 GMT

    AOK, while I completely agree with you that an issue/accusation should never be condemned in free society, no matter how fallacious the allegation might be, Rahul's point in the article is the lack of reason in some of Akram's arguments and possibly even the language he uses. When someone who has played as much cricket as Akram, his comments on cricket and its organisation carry a tremendous weight that could influence a wide audience. This calls for greater responsibility on Akram's part and hence also calls for lesser tolerance from us for anything idiotic rather than more tolerance.

  • CricFan on February 7, 2006, 23:30 GMT

    I've been to quite a number of countries including the subcontinental countries, African, European and the US-Canada... perhaps not Aus. But as far as I know racism is at its absolute worst in Northern India (and central China). And unfortuately the issue is never taken up there. There's hardly any white people there, but almost everyone discriminates aginst the one darker than them. The worst of them being the so-called NRIs. And to be honest, there's nothing much the cricket board of any country can do to curb it. Cricket is an entertainment business and its fans, the customers, are always right. It definitely does help having Beyonces and Kobe Bryants hogging up the media.

  • Peter on February 7, 2006, 22:29 GMT

    The ability of a society to introspect on its own shortcomings (something Australians are infamous for overdoing), is the product of a sophisticated and well-educated civilisation. Some cultures have not moved on in thousands of years, while others have made startling progress in just 200 years.

  • Zain Ahmed on February 7, 2006, 21:34 GMT

    I agree with the comment about Wasim Akram....is not 'being racist', he is 'pointing out' his observation of racism in the game. Don't be superficial and chastize him, look into his allegations and judge for yourself.

  • Aftab on February 7, 2006, 21:19 GMT

    I think that racism in cricket, when aplied to Australia, goes beyond racism. I call it "bullyism". The aussies sledge relentlessly. Their body language is intimidating to opposition. Just look at the way Shane Warne stares at his prey before he delivers the ball. They don't have to do these things to be acknowledged as the world champions.

    They are also sore losers...whether they are current or former cricketers. Greg Chappel couldn't bear the thought that Shoaib Akhtar could get Rahul Dravid "the wall" in his first over, so he re-opened the closed chapter of Shoaib's bowling action. Years ago, the Aussie umpires tried to outlaw Murali and Harbhajan too. The whole attitude of Aussie cricketers, commentators and umpires makes me sick!

  • anynymous on February 7, 2006, 21:07 GMT

    Excellent piece, however before you jump on wasim-akram as an example of reverse racism, please remember where he comes from. He along with waqar devastated England only to be met with 'ball-tampering' charges. He has been maligned much in the match fixing crap without proof, if i may add, while the likes of warne and waugh and gibbs get off with not even a rap on the wrists. Please remember that wasim has played almost 20 years in a field that we have only seen on television. He KNOWS what he is talking about. There are certain umpires who actually look down at the players from the sub-continent. Remember the one who banned indian players for excessive appealing, has anyone ever looked at the aussies? Has any match referee taken a gora player to task the way they go after the kaalas?....for god's sake pollock sent a stump through the door of the umpires room and went without even a warning and you tell me there is no racism in the ICC?....The token black guy on an ICC committe doesnt make it ok. Did you look at the ICC world eleven. What qualifies Jonty Rhodes to select it? How does Graeme smith end up as captain or even be in the team. Howcome so many south africans in the team?.....are you trying to tell me sangakara or even dhoni/akmal arent better than Mark boucher! and daniel Vettori!!!!....what happened to bhajji or kumble!

  • Sourojit Dhar on February 7, 2006, 20:45 GMT

    The need is for us to look inwards for the answers!!

    I partly agree with what Rahul has so eloquently written about understanding racism. But I also agree with this other commentator (AOK) who defend's Akrams case. True... what do we know about the internal politics of being in the team and working with ICC. But that maybe more of politics than racism.

    To me the bigger question is what do we all personally feel about the issue of race, color and prejudices. Truth be told noboby here in the US or any other part of the world likes to confront the issue when it relates to them being the culprit. There is a denial game being played around... an attempt at covering up the real feelings. I'd be hard pressed not be believe someone who says 'I do not think of someone's race when I meet them, and race does not really matter'. It is there everywhere and apparent in some way or the other, it is also likely to remain that way but ebb gradually as intermingling of races continue to happen. To me it is important that we question why we attribute characteristics to a race and how we can stop these biases from overpowering our thought-processes. Easier said than done!

  • MDM on February 7, 2006, 19:26 GMT

    Well said Jay. An accusation of racism, no matter how unfounded such accusation might be, does not make the accuser a racist. Martin Luther King was not a racist.

  • weu on February 7, 2006, 19:19 GMT

    Excellent article. Just wanted to add a little observation to it. Last night I was watching the VB series match between Sri Lanka and South Africa. During the match, one of the commentators (I dont know his name) was asked a trivia as to what is the highest second innings total in an ODI. He was unable toanswer it. When he was told that it was between Pakistan and India at Karachi, he replied "This is rediculous, how am I supposed to know such things". I did not like his tone, it was one way of saying "I am an Australian, why would I care what happens in Pakistan/India"

  • SV Muralidhar on February 7, 2006, 17:44 GMT

    Brilliant Articles by both Bhattacharya and English

    I believe racism in cricket is not as virulent as in football.

    I am not sure if the ‘no-ball ‘ chants were racist or just the Aussie crowds getting behind their teams and sledging the opposition, I am sure Flintoff will get equal or greater taunts, some may also be racist

    I live in the US and frankly I do not see any such racial taunts now in stadiums, and I think a deliberate policy and swift retribution, really akin to rules one must follow in the work place have eradicated it

    And I do not see it having hampered some original sledges opposing fans in the stands toss out to opponent players

    And no one I can think call the great Yabba of Sydney Hill a racist and his droll comments surely enlivened many a dull cricket day at the SCG!

  • Dhananjay on February 7, 2006, 17:37 GMT

    I was there on the second day of the Bombay Test against West Indies. The whole atmosphere was sickening. Dillon was being called a "black hobo" time and again when he was fielding at long off. It must have been unbearable for him cause he was immediately replaced by another player. One point I would like to say is tht this fielder was not abused at all. There were some jibes, some odd comment but no "hobo shobo" nonsense. Then again Dillon seemed to be singled out because of his match winning bowling in the India tour of West Indies just prior to tht match. The other player was a virtual unknown. My theory is tht the players who are the main targets are percieved by the crowds to be the most dangerous and most likely to prevent the home side from winning. Which is why a Murali or a Jayasuriya is singled out for some "black nonsense" treatment. It seems to be a kind of "sledging" though more dangerous and highly unneccessary. As far as the crowds is concerned, they sometimes do not even spare their own people. In the WI innings in the above mentioned match, Zaheer was targetted with some, umm, erotic sledging. Only problem for the chap was that the provocators were middle aged pot belied men.

  • Murugesan K. V. on February 7, 2006, 17:35 GMT

    The quarter-final between India and Pakistan at Bangalore in the 1996 World Cup is the last match that I watched live at a stadium. I vowed never again to be part of a mob of ill-bred, uncultured, degenerate louts who did not come to watch the cricket. They were there to taunt and abuse the opponents in every possible way, and see an Indian win.

    I do not know if this was racism, but intolerance and bigotry it sure was, not to mention a lack of understanding of the game and respect for the talented sportsmen who play it.

    So let us pots stop calling the kettles black...... we are as bad as anybody else.

  • Asad on February 7, 2006, 17:25 GMT

    Sport is supposed to bridge cultural gaps. Look at India and Pakistan right now.

    The racism issue is a greater cultural disease that Australia suffers from which is actually quite popular in the "civilized world" these days.

    I strongly disagree with Mr. Bhattacharya that the issues in Australia are present in the subcontinent. What you see in Australia is disdain and disrespect for other cultures/races which causes them to act the way they do. Visiting teams to the subcontinent or the West Indies are treated extremely well.

    Such problems dont get fixed by crowd control they get fixed by cultural evolution.

  • Jay on February 7, 2006, 16:48 GMT

    Now that we're finally talking about tolerance, how about giving Akram some breathing room. The man delighted crowds all over the world for 18 years. It is fair to assume that he has observed cricket closer than many of us. Let's remember that bringing up an issue/accusation should never be condemned in free societies, no matter how fallacious the allegation might be. If you think an argument (in this case Akram's whining) is baseles, refute it. But let's not blame the man (Akram) for being a conspiracy theorist, because that makes us judgemental and opinionated. Rather we should look at the root cause of his frustration. And honestly speaking, there is racism, nepotism, jealousy, the whole nine yards in cricket. It's a sport, it's a profession, it's showbiz. How can these things not be there. I don't think we're ever going to eliminate these vices from any sport. However, we can definitely put a check on them and curb them by strict regulation (like ejection/fine/imprisonment in case of a racist chant/behavior).

  • AOK on February 7, 2006, 16:27 GMT

    As mentioned before, it has to be realised that racism in cricket grounds is a world wide problem and not only in areas which have gained publicity through the media recently.Agree with Mr Rahul on the type of racism Wasim Akram displays.. there is absolutley no difference.

    The most common denominator in cricket grounds of the whole world, where abuse is hurled at visting teams, is alcohol! Ban ALCOHOL at cricket grounds and see the difference. radical problmes call for radical solutions!

    AOK

  • Raj on February 7, 2006, 15:46 GMT

    Well said!!! Racism and reverse racism are just as destructive. Indians and all others need more introspection. Let sports be played with sportsmanship!

  • Bimalke on February 7, 2006, 15:45 GMT

    brilliant comment... gives a very balanced and intelligent view on racism. It is very intersting to note that racism works both ways. And very intersting observation about the murali incident. All the talk of racists being ejected from grounds and banned, what happened to him? I think to tackle the immediate problem of crowd racism, financial penalties should be introduced in addition to the others.

  • zartaj khan on February 7, 2006, 14:56 GMT

    Well,the way australian cricket officials are chanting zero tolerence towards racism,then why that man coloured his face black with a sign no-ball on his body or t-shirt allowed in the stadium.They are all foolish and fooling others and Murali is one of them,instead of showing the middle finger between his legs,he went for bio-test in order to placate that idiot.whata fool.///////

  • zartaj khan on February 7, 2006, 14:56 GMT

    Well,the way australian cricket officials are chanting zero tolerence towards racism,then why that man coloured his face black with a sign no-ball on his body or t-shirt allowed in the stadium.They are all foolish and fooling others and Murali is one of them,instead of showing the middle finger between his legs,he went for bio-test in order to placate that idiot.whata fool.///////

  • Rachel on February 7, 2006, 14:50 GMT

    always instructive to remember all the forms that racism can take. Still disappointing that we are having to debate how to combat this kind of idiocy in the 21st century. It is beholden on all spectators at whatever event to stand up to and report any abusive or racist behaviour - football in the UK did it to great effect. Silence is acquiescence - we need to make our voices heard against the racists to ensure they are defeated

  • Zainub on February 7, 2006, 14:24 GMT

    Rahul Bhattacharya's post today reminded me of something Martin Samuel once wrote for The Times.

    "Fighting racism is about targets. Not achieving them. Choosing them. Sport will only be free of racism when nobody notices ethnic composition. Witch-hunts of old men, too entrenched in a bygone era to change their ways, are another dead end. The goal should be intellectual evolution: to be more tolerant than the previous generation. "

  • deadlydodo on February 7, 2006, 13:14 GMT

    Nice on Zatta. Thought provoking.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • deadlydodo on February 7, 2006, 13:14 GMT

    Nice on Zatta. Thought provoking.

  • Zainub on February 7, 2006, 14:24 GMT

    Rahul Bhattacharya's post today reminded me of something Martin Samuel once wrote for The Times.

    "Fighting racism is about targets. Not achieving them. Choosing them. Sport will only be free of racism when nobody notices ethnic composition. Witch-hunts of old men, too entrenched in a bygone era to change their ways, are another dead end. The goal should be intellectual evolution: to be more tolerant than the previous generation. "

  • Rachel on February 7, 2006, 14:50 GMT

    always instructive to remember all the forms that racism can take. Still disappointing that we are having to debate how to combat this kind of idiocy in the 21st century. It is beholden on all spectators at whatever event to stand up to and report any abusive or racist behaviour - football in the UK did it to great effect. Silence is acquiescence - we need to make our voices heard against the racists to ensure they are defeated

  • zartaj khan on February 7, 2006, 14:56 GMT

    Well,the way australian cricket officials are chanting zero tolerence towards racism,then why that man coloured his face black with a sign no-ball on his body or t-shirt allowed in the stadium.They are all foolish and fooling others and Murali is one of them,instead of showing the middle finger between his legs,he went for bio-test in order to placate that idiot.whata fool.///////

  • zartaj khan on February 7, 2006, 14:56 GMT

    Well,the way australian cricket officials are chanting zero tolerence towards racism,then why that man coloured his face black with a sign no-ball on his body or t-shirt allowed in the stadium.They are all foolish and fooling others and Murali is one of them,instead of showing the middle finger between his legs,he went for bio-test in order to placate that idiot.whata fool.///////

  • Bimalke on February 7, 2006, 15:45 GMT

    brilliant comment... gives a very balanced and intelligent view on racism. It is very intersting to note that racism works both ways. And very intersting observation about the murali incident. All the talk of racists being ejected from grounds and banned, what happened to him? I think to tackle the immediate problem of crowd racism, financial penalties should be introduced in addition to the others.

  • Raj on February 7, 2006, 15:46 GMT

    Well said!!! Racism and reverse racism are just as destructive. Indians and all others need more introspection. Let sports be played with sportsmanship!

  • AOK on February 7, 2006, 16:27 GMT

    As mentioned before, it has to be realised that racism in cricket grounds is a world wide problem and not only in areas which have gained publicity through the media recently.Agree with Mr Rahul on the type of racism Wasim Akram displays.. there is absolutley no difference.

    The most common denominator in cricket grounds of the whole world, where abuse is hurled at visting teams, is alcohol! Ban ALCOHOL at cricket grounds and see the difference. radical problmes call for radical solutions!

    AOK

  • Jay on February 7, 2006, 16:48 GMT

    Now that we're finally talking about tolerance, how about giving Akram some breathing room. The man delighted crowds all over the world for 18 years. It is fair to assume that he has observed cricket closer than many of us. Let's remember that bringing up an issue/accusation should never be condemned in free societies, no matter how fallacious the allegation might be. If you think an argument (in this case Akram's whining) is baseles, refute it. But let's not blame the man (Akram) for being a conspiracy theorist, because that makes us judgemental and opinionated. Rather we should look at the root cause of his frustration. And honestly speaking, there is racism, nepotism, jealousy, the whole nine yards in cricket. It's a sport, it's a profession, it's showbiz. How can these things not be there. I don't think we're ever going to eliminate these vices from any sport. However, we can definitely put a check on them and curb them by strict regulation (like ejection/fine/imprisonment in case of a racist chant/behavior).

  • Asad on February 7, 2006, 17:25 GMT

    Sport is supposed to bridge cultural gaps. Look at India and Pakistan right now.

    The racism issue is a greater cultural disease that Australia suffers from which is actually quite popular in the "civilized world" these days.

    I strongly disagree with Mr. Bhattacharya that the issues in Australia are present in the subcontinent. What you see in Australia is disdain and disrespect for other cultures/races which causes them to act the way they do. Visiting teams to the subcontinent or the West Indies are treated extremely well.

    Such problems dont get fixed by crowd control they get fixed by cultural evolution.