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Panesar suffers racial abuse during tour match

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Last updated on: November 14, 2006 15:09 IST

The ugly spectre of racism in cricket has reared its head again with claims that two England players were abused by spectators on the Ashes tour of Australia.

Spinner Monty Panesar, a bearded Sikh, was allegedly called "a stupid Indian" by a spectator during the tour match against New South Wales.

Panesar and South African-born batsman Kevin Pietersen were abused by fans in England's tour opener in Canberra last Friday.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) did not lodge an official complaint but confirmed the incidents had occurred after they were reported in Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday.

"We were asked by the paper to confirm if the incident took place and we have done," a team spokesman said.

"We will continue to monitor the situation, but we're not going to make an official complaint at this stage."

Brian Murgatroyd, the International Cricket Council's media and communications manager, said from Dubai that they are aware of the issue.

"Our anti-racism code is in place and I know Cricket Australia (CA) is doing their best to enforce it," he added.

Cricket Australia officials said they are unaware of the incidents until informed by the ECB.

The Daily Telegraph said Panesar had been fielding on the boundary at the Sydney Cricket Ground when a spectator began shouting at him.

"Give us a wave, Monty. You can't speak English you stupid Indian, I'll have to say it in Indian.

"What are you doing playing in the English side? You're not English."

New South Wales captain Simon Katich said he is disappointed to hear about the incidents.

"I don't think any of us want to see that and it is disappointing," Katich told reporters on Tuesday. "Hopefully, it won't happen again. Cricket Australia have said they will take a tough line against it and hopefully they will."

Panesar, 24, underwent counselling from a team psychologist before leaving England amid fears he would be singled out by Australian crowds.

South African and Sri Lankan players complained they had been racially abused on their tour of Australia last season and South Africa captain Graeme Smith had said he had feared for Panesar when he came to Australia.


The ICC launched an investigation into last year's claims before introducing tough new guidelines on tackling racism, including life bans for spectators found guilty and penalties against countries that fail to impose the bans.

CA has adopted the ICC's recommendations and announced last week that it was introducing a host of extra measures to combat drunken louts and racism during the Ashes series.

These include beefing up security staff inside and outside grounds, increased closed circuit television and a mobile phone text-messaging system allowing fans to report anti-social behaviour from the stands.

The rivalry between Ashes fans is expected to be intense during the five-match series with 20,000 England supporters expected to travel to Australia.

The "Barmy Army", England's unofficial supporting squad, have reportedly printed 60,000 copies of the lyrics of their own irreverent songs about Australia's convict past to hand out to their supporters.

Australian cricket officials plan to respond by issuing their fans with song sheets on cheeky ditties about England's players.

"Our message is come along, enjoy yourself and have fun. But if your idea of fun is to spoil someone else's day, we will identify you and we will take action. It's as simple as that," CA boss James Sutherland said last week.

"We can't promise to totally eradicate bad behaviour that stems from a minority group. No doubt there will be some idiots over the summer who do the wrong thing."


Ed Osmond in Sydney
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