Mohammed Siraj spoke to a news agency where he said that the umpires at the Sydney Test offered Team India to abandon and leave the match after racist comments from spectators disturbed the players. Playing a maiden Test series against Australia, in the land Down Under is never easy. But Siraj passed the test and came out with flying colours. Siraj finished as India’s best wicket-ticker for the series and played a crucial part in the historic series victory.
However, Siraj also had to deal with several personal issues through the tour.
On the Sydney cricket ground, Siraj along with his senior fast-bowler colleague Jasprit Bumrah, faced racial abuse for two days.
The racial abuse got to a point where the Indian team management had to lodge an official complaint to the match referee David Boon. Mohammed Siraj was called “brown monkey” by Australian spectators. Siraj then reported the matter to the Indian stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane. He revealed on Thursday that the umpires had offered Rahane the option to leave the game, however, Ajinkya decided to do otherwise and continued with the game.
Siraj speaking to a news agency said, “The umpires had said we can leave the game and go if we are upset with the racist comments, but (Ajinkya) Rahane said ‘why should we leave the game, we respect the game and we are here to play.”
Siraj also gave a testimony of his headstrong temperament and said, “That incident made me mentally stronger, and I am happy that I didn’t let it affect my game.”
After Siraj’s complaint to the umpires, a section of the spectators was ejected from the Sydney Cricket Ground. This incident drew sharp condemnation from both cricket fraternities and cricket boards alike. Cricket regulatory body International Cricket Council gave a statement saying there is no place for discrimination in cricket.
In its statement ICC said, “There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable. We have a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Policy in place that Members have to abide by and ensure is adhered to by fans and we welcome the action taken by ground authorities and Cricket Australia today.”
Australian batsman David Warner also remained critical of his home crowd for their behaviour. The batsman in a caption of an Instagram post apologized to Siraj and wrote how the behaviour of spectators was unacceptable.
“I’d also like to say sorry to @mohammedsirajofficial and the Indian team as racism, and abuse is not in any way acceptable or tolerated anywhere at any time, and I would expect better from our home crowd,” David Warner wrote on his Instagram post.
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Siraj not only faced setbacks on the ground but also off the ground. Before the Border-Gavaskar series started, his father passed away. Due to the COVID-19 enforced regulations in both India and Australia, he could not fly back to India without sacrificing his dream of making a Test debut against Australia. However, showing his mettle Siraj chose to stay in Australia with his team.
Speaking about the racial abuse incident and how his father’s death affected him, Siraj said, “They thought that abusing me would have an effect on my bowling, but I was mentally so strong after my father’s death that it did not affect me in the match at all. I played just like I was.”
Siraj also reiterated how his 13-wicket haul at the series Down Under is dedicated to his father.