PM Modi cracks 'shirtfronting' and cricket jokes in Australian parliament

  • AFP, Sydney
  • Updated: Nov 25, 2014 13:38 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi injected some humour into his address to Australia's parliament on Tuesday, using the term "shirtfront" to make fun of his host while also talking cricket.

Modi's official visit, the first by an Indian leader in 28 years, follows on from Prime Minister Tony Abbott's hosting of G20 world leaders in Brisbane on the weekend.

"(As) the third head of the government you are listening to this week, I do not know how you are doing this," Modi told members of parliament, who were addressed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday and Britain's David Cameron last Friday.

"Maybe this is Prime Minister Abbott's way of shirtfronting you!"

As most fans of Australian Football League (AFL) already know, a shirtfronter is an Australian rules term for a front-on challenge that knocks an opponent to the ground. The Macquarie dictionary makes it two words and puts it like this: shirt fronter, a head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground, reported The Guardian.

Abbott made "shirtfront" a global concept when in October he threatened to do it to Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G20 over the crisis in Ukraine.

In the end, the two men were all smiles for the cameras.

Modi is the second leader to use the obscure term in his address, after Cameron recalled his concern when Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was purposefully heading his way at a summit in Italy.

"I wondered for a moment whether I was heading for what I'm told we now need to call a 'shirtfronting'," he said, before going on to say she had merely wanted to offer help to fight Ebola.

Modi's speech also included a reference to cricket, saying that both Australia and India celebrated the legend of Australian batsman Don Bradman and the class of India's Sachin Tendulkar.

"We are impressed by Australian speed as you are charmed by the Indian spin until of course Shane Warne came along!," Modi said .

"I wish you the best for hosting a great and successful World Cup next year," he added, referring to the one-day tournament being hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

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