Instances of racism in cricket have been exaggerated, Cricket Australia

November 14th, 2007 - 2:56 am ICT by admin  
Addresssing the South Australian Press Club in Adelaide yesterday, Sutherland, a guest speaker, said he did not expect any difference in crowd behaviour this year despite the controversy surrounding the Andrew Symonds episode during the Australian team’s tour of India.

“I think it’s been overplayed through the media. If you go back to the South African issue two years ago and in India, they are isolated incidents which need to be dealt with absolutely. You’re talking about very small minorities and all of a sudden it’s being turned into an international incident,” The Australian quoted Sutherland, as saying.

Symonds, Australia’s only black player, was subjected to monkey chants, leaving a false impression that there was going to be major crowd and racism problems in Australia this summer.

“I think the wheels were in motion, but perhaps the response might have been a bit more immediate to the issue or taken more seriously (by Indian officials). It clearly was an issue and people were offended. I think Andrew handled it marvellously,” Sutherland said.

“That is one of the challenging things with this racism issue, people can take it different ways.

“Our comments about it were entirely consistent with our policy and philosophy in respect to racism in the game. I don’t think there is any need to reinforce it by having a press conference. We knew the ICC had the matter in hand and were dealing with it, we had confidence in that and that is what the policy is there for and how it should be enacted.

“They (ICC) knew exactly what our position was and how the matter stood with us immediately after the incident happened. All we expected was the application of the policy,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland announced during his speech that CA would have a more co-ordinated approach to crowd behaviour than ever before, with a policy of “detect and eject”. He urged supporters to report abusive and racist fans to officials at the game so they could be thrown out.

“It’s easier to do something about it there and then, rather than the day after when people ring in to radio stations or cricket authorities to complain about what happened at the game,” he said.

He also defended Sri Lankan off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, saying his action had been proved to be fair by “umpteen” International Cricket Council tests.

Sutherland was hopeful that crowds would give Muralitharan a positive response despite the spinner being taunted in the past with calls of “no ball” because of his controversial action.

“He’s taken 700 wickets and is one of the great players of all time. We all know that. Personally I can sit and watch Murali bowl for hours. I think he’s an absolute marvel and I think the Australian public will recognise that. The fight batsmen have playing against him is similar to the fight they had playing against Shane Warne. I’m sure there will be a positive response and that people will appreciate Murali for what he is, and that’s an absolute champion,” said Sutherland. (ANI)

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