Cricket Australia has a problem. Like a scab that doesn’t heal in the tropics, they have allowed racism to fester at Australian cricket grounds.
It is a serious claim worth serious investigation, but conveniently brushed under the carpet by authorities and mass media.
Over the years, and I am sure many readers will share the same experience, I have heard friends, acquaintances and work colleagues tell me how they have stopped attending the shorter forms of the game involving the Australian cricket team because they don’t want be a part of an unpleasant social experience.
Last Friday 62,000 thousand people turned up to MCG to watch a Twenty 20 match between Australia and India. A healthy turnout, you might suggest, but significantly less than the 84,000 that turned up four years for the same fixture.
If it was not for the Melbourne’s burgeoning, passionate Indian cricket community, the crowd would have been much, much less.
Thankfully, they also provided the only genuine atmosphere in the most manufactured of sporting environments.
Also in attendance were the usual suspects of booze fuelled miscreants who think it their patriotic duty to make it a miserable night for everyone within earshot.
The biggest crime you could commit on this occasion was to have an “Un-Australian” resemblance to Usman Khawaja.
I was saddened, but not surprised, when on Saturday afternoon I listened to SEN radio presenter, Matt Thompson, recollect some of the unseemly events he witnessed the night before; including a beer cup being thrown at an Indian spectator.
His admission prompted the talkback line to be flooded with cricket fans who related similar experiences of racial abuse and anti-social behaviour.
As some kind of cruel ironic joke, and only hours before the game on Friday night, the MCG was used as the venue to launch Harmony Day 2012 to recognise “the positive influence that sport has in our multicultural nation. Involvement in sport whether as a participant, volunteer, spectator or administrator unites people of all ages and fosters a sense of belonging, acceptance and an understanding of other cultures.”
My suggestion is for Cricket Australia to shame racist spectators who use the cloak of supporting the Australian cricket team by initiating an advertising campaign at the grounds and on television.
It is long overdue. But will they have the courage to admit the problem and do something about it?
It is no surprise the Big Bash League is proving popular with families.
Not only is it cheaper to attend, but the multi-racial city based league stops it from descending into an “Ugly” Australian jamboree.
You would think someone at Cricket Australia must have noticed this by now.
Athas Zafiris is on Twitter @ArtSapphire