Island Cricket

Monday, December 17, 2007

Racism in Australian grounds? NOT a myth..

February 2008 will see Sri Lanka traveling yet again to Australia. This time to take on the Aussies in a ODI triangular series, which also features India.

My mind took me back to an interesting piece written by Peter Roebuck for the AGE.

This was published the last time Sri Lanka toured Australia for the VB Series.

"A few rows in front there was a bunch of about 10 20-year-olds mouthing off. Most of them were drunk as skunks."

Spectators in the area had little choice but to put up with the ceaseless swearing of these louts. Over the years, Bailey has attended many football and cricket matches and sipped many beers at the ground and cannot remember seeing anything remotely as objectionable as the performance put up by these oafs.

By now, the Sri Lankans were fielding and some of their players were stationed about six metres from the yobbos. "These youths kept calling them names, taunting them, trying to get a rise out of them but they didn't take any notice. It was a constant bombardment. The language was dreadful."

Before long, things turned ugly. Unable to get a response, the thugs started racially abusing fieldsmen. "They called them 'darkies' and then 'black c---s'." Some spectators decided enough was enough. "A couple of guys tried to settle them down. One 60-year-old bloke told them to pipe down, so they turned on him and abused him for 10 minutes. That stopped others in their tracks." Bailey did not see any sign of marshals or police.

Bailey decided to leave the area. As much as the racism, it was the endless foul language and total disregard of other spectators that infuriated him. He told his bemused son that these hoodlums were "the opposite of role models. I tried to turn it into a positive. I said there are clowns everywhere in the world. I'm not sure it worked. Maybe it was just a negative experience". He took his son to the Ladies Stand, where a large group of Sri Lankans were cheerfully supporting their side. "They were playing music and singing. Everyone enjoyed their antics."

In the light of these events, having seen visiting players insulted, cricket lovers frustrated and paying customers upset, Bailey believes an area must be set aside for families and children. He also advocates that an SMS number be provided so that spectators can draw attention to misconduct. "Everyone has a mobile phone," he points out. "We don't want people dobbing in for nothing but this was outrageous. These blokes were anti-social. It was embarrassing to be near them."


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