The iconic Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday witnessed the good, bad and ugly in varying degrees for sure if not in equal measure.
While the cricket community exploded after Indian players were subjected to racial abuse during the fourth day of the third Test at the SCG, Australian skipper Tim Paine won hearts by joining the visiting team’s huddle.
Play was halted for a few minutes after India pacer Mohammed Siraj complained of racial abuse from a section of the crowd, leading to expulsion of some spectators and an unreserved apology from Cricket Australia.
Australian coach Justin Langer called Paine a “class act”.
“It was nice to have Tim out there when that incident happened today. He’s a class act as we know. The game of Test cricket is always going to be played tough but there’s been a really good feeling amongst both teams and let’s hope that continues,” Langer said.
Paine was batting at the time.
The former Australia Test opener was disappointed that incidents like these are threatening to tarnish a hard-fought series played in the right spirit between the two teams.
“We saw it throughout the white-ball series, both series. And we’ve seen it through this Test series.
“I was interviewed before the summer started (and was asked) what would be the perfect outcome and I mentioned that this series, with everything that’s happening around the world, would be played with great sportsmanship and with that great spirit that I’m talking about.
“I think we’ve seen that, haven’t we? It’s been great to watch,” Langer said.
The unsavoury incident took place a day after a drunk spectator at the SCG allegedly directed racial abuse at Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj. The BCCI had lodged a complaint with the ICC.
Speaking further about Paine’s gesture, Langer said, “We talked at tea about what was going on. As hosts, we never want to see our visitors being treated poorly do we? And there’s different levels of that.
“We were in England last year and some of our guys have felt it before, there’s nothing pleasant about it.
“I’m not exactly sure what was said out there between Tim and the Indians, I think it was just a show of support that we don’t condone any of that really, really bad behaviour,” Langer said.
During the second session of the fourth day, India players huddled in the centre after Siraj, standing at the square leg boundary, complained of abuse after being hit for two consecutive sixes by Cameron Green in his over.
This prompted the security personnel to enter the stands and look for the mischief monger before a group of people was asked to leave the stands.
Local media reported that six people were expelled from the ground by the security during the nearly 10-minute halt in the on-ground proceedings even as the ICC joined the cricketers in condemning the incident.