Sri Lanka in South Africa, VB Series February 3, 2006

Muralitharan reprimanded for gesture


Muttiah Muralitharan reacted to "substantial provocation" from a man in the crowd © Getty Images

Muttiah Muralitharan will face an "unofficial reprimand" after responding with a single-finger gesture to crowd taunts in Perth, during Sri Lanka's VB Series match against South Africa last Tuesday.

A statement released by Cricket Australia, the sport's governing body, on behalf of the International Cricket Council match referee, Jeff Crowe, said the matter would be discussed with Muralitharan in Hobart next week.

Muralitharan was photographed making the gesture towards a man in the crowd who had painted his face black and had the words "no-ball" painted across his chest. Crowe advised in the statement that although no official match report had been received, players needed to keep their emotions under control even though there had been "substantial provocation".

"Therefore, an official reprimand will be discussed with Muttiah and the Sri Lankan team management when the ICC match referee and the team gather before the ODI in Hobart on February 7," the statement said.

The Sri Lankans said earlier they were fed up with Australian crowds taunting Muralitharan but would not lodge a formal complaint about racism. The team manager, Michael Tissera, said he would not follow in the footsteps of the South Africans, who have formally complained of racist slurs from Australian crowds, but added that they were upset by the ongoing treatment of their best bowler.

Australian crowds have continued to chant "no-ball" as Muralitharan runs in to bowl, in reference to his controversial action. He was no-balled for throwing seven times during the 1995 Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne but subsequent scientific tests cleared him of any serious breach.

"It's not racial, we are not going to do anything on the racial side of it, but we are quite cheesed off that this abuse keeps going on and on and on," Tissera said. "There's nothing we can do. This taunting keeps going on and on and on and the player is thoroughly frustrated."

The International Cricket Council is investigating racism amongst Australian crowds following the South African complaint. There have also been reports that racist obscenities were shouted at Sri Lankan players by crowd members during their tour of Australia but coach Tom Moody said earlier this week they had no problems.