'I walked up to Siraj and he had tears rolling down his cheeks': Paine recalls controversial India vs Australia Test
Former Australia Tim Paine shared his thoughts on the controversial India vs Australia Test match that took place in Sydney in January of 2021.
India's historic Test series win in Australia in 2021 will always have a special place in the hearts of Indian cricket fans and those who were part of it. Fighting adversity, the way the Indian team roared back from the low of Adelaide Test to win the series 2-1 was the stuff of legends. But while the series turned out to be a cracker, it had its fair share of ups and downs as well. During the New Year's Test held in Sydney, one of the bigger controversies from the tour erupted when India pacer Mohammed Siraj found himself at the receiving end of racist remarks from the crowd. Former Australia Test captain Tim Paine took the opportunity to reveal his thoughts regarding something he views as 'uncalled for' under the spirit of the game.
Siraj had been fielding at the boundary ropes when he received racial abuse and slurs from certain members of the Sydney Cricket Ground crowd, prompting him to report the incident to captain Ajinkya Rahane and further to the two umpires for the Test, Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson. He also said that Jasprit Bumrah had been subjected to similar behaviour. The match was temporarily interrupted as the umpires gave Rahane the option to take his team off the field and return after the matter was concluded, but the Indian team stayed on the ground as SCG security removed the offenders from the stands.
Paine came out in support of Siraj and the Indian team, condemning the behaviour of the Australian supporters. "Traditionally in Australia we have been pretty good at how we treat our visiting cricketing teams. So to see it happen again was disappointing," Paine said in the docuseries 'Bandon Mein Tha Dum' streaming on VOOT.
In showing solidarity with Siraj and the Indian team, Paine made clear that even in the midst of a hotly-contested sporting event, the Australian team drew a line. Siraj was on his first tour overseas, and reached a breaking point with the insults being hurled at him from a loud minority within the crowd, rightly feeling aggrieved and emotionally overwhelmed at the prospect. Moreover, he had just suffered the loss of his father during the tour, and was pictured in tears as the national anthem was sung.
"I still remember walking up to Siraj, he actually had tears in his eyes and tears rolling down his cheeks. So it obviously really affected him and cut him really deep. This is a kid, who has just gone through the death of his father. And then to have that I just thought was uncalled for" mentioned Paine.
Paine and the Australian leadership group fully backed up Siraj's right to have those elements from the crowd removed, and took the opportunity of the docuseries to reiterate his support, reminding viewers that there are some things more important than sporting rivalry. Siraj would claim he used that fire to fuel his performances for the rest of the tour, and he would star as India's senior bowler in the now-famous injury-affected Gabba Test. He would return victorious from the tour and pay his respects to his father upon landing in Hyderabad.