The Australia under-19 team lost to their Indian counterparts in the quarter-final of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, currently in progress in South Africa. However, the disappointment of losing in the last-8 stage is likely to be compounded for the colts from the Aussie side with punishment for making fun of the way Indians speak English.
The controversy erupted after screenshots of a chat on Instagram between some players of the Australian under-19 team got circulated on social media. The conversation started with the opening batsman of the side – Jake Fraser-McGurk – expressing his excitement at preparing for the quarterfinal match.
The 'offensive remarks'
He wrote: "Quarter Finals here we come." This was absolutely harmless. But then, five of his teammates decided to respond to the post in a way that some have construed to be offensive to those whose mother tongue is not English, especially Indians.
Oliver Davies wrote: "Sir, great player, big fan and will play India one day." Another member of the squad, Liam Scott added: "Sir, give me WhatsApp number, I want to be friend." Lachlan Hearne dived in with: "Young Steve Smith sir." Tanveer Sangha also chipped in with "You hit ball very hard sir." Lastly, Sam Fanning wrote: "How you bat so good young man."
It is crystal clear that these boys were trying to do a funny imitation, or what they thought to be funny impressions, of the way they found some Indians speaking English. Now, Cricket Australia has taken cognizance of the issue and is seriously considering taking action against these players.
Cricket Australia's reaction
"We are extremely disappointed that some of the Australian under-19 squad members have used inappropriate language in posts on social media, which we reported to the ICC as soon as it came to our attention. Some of that language could be interpreted as ridiculing non-native English language speakers," Sean Caroll, CA's integrity chief, told Australian media.
"I have spoken to the players this morning and expressed in no uncertain terms that such language has no place in society and falls well short of the standards we expect as Australian cricketers. Cricket Australia will consider sanctions upon their return home from South Africa, which will include but not be limited to education and cultural sensitivity training," Caroll added.
Since the sandpaper-gate scandal, CA has been trying really hard to bring about a cultural change in Australian cricket and improve the reputation of their team. Things seem to have improved at the international level with the Australian national teams remaining well away from any unseemly controversy or any unpleasant on-pitch behaviour. The colts may need to follow the senior team's lead.