Embracing diversity can combat racism in cricket: Sutherland

By Neena Bhandari, IANS

Sydney : With “racism” making as much news as on-field performances, Cricket Australia’s chief executive officer James Sutherland said the long term challenge for the game is to win the hearts and minds of fans so that they genuinely accept, embrace and celebrate global cultural diversity.

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Commending the International Cricket Council’s anti racism requirement that venues detect and eject people involved in such offensive behaviour, Sutherland said: “I love cricket for many reasons, including the red-blooded contest that goes with playing hard but fair at an elite level in a genuinely global sport.”

Speaking at the South Australia Press Club in Adelaide Friday, he added: “But I also love it as a game that crosses cultural divides and, when it gets things right, brings diverse people together in their genuine love of the game.”

Sutherland said, “Our challenge… is to ensure youngsters of all backgrounds have genuine access to the game. If we get it right, my kids will grow up to barrack for Australian men’s and women’s teams in which the baggy green is worn by indigenous Australians, by Asian Australians, by Islamic Australians, by Australians of all backgrounds.

“To a large extent, the battle to stay at the top of world cricket will be won or lost in the school yard,” he said, emphasising that Australian cricket needs to have young boys and girls playing the game if it is to stay the number one cricket nation in the world.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Cricket Australia has devised a specific security plan for Sri Lanka’s master spinner Muttiah Muralidharan, who has faced much rancour from Australian crowds.

According to the daily, “plainclothes security officers will be sent to sections of the crowd close to Murali’s fielding positions. At the first sign of trouble the officers will call for back up and eject troublemakers from the ground. Other arrangements have also been made to ensure Murali is not subjected to unwarranted crowd abuse.”

“Nobody wants a situation where it gets nasty and Murali decides to head home. There have been arrangements made to make sure he is looked after,” a New South Wales cricket official was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

Murali will be drawing a lot of attention as he is just nine short of Shane Warne’s world record of 708 Test wickets.