The ugly head of racism reared its head during India’s Australia tour earlier this month when Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj complained of hearing racist slurs during the Sydney Test. That incident drew widespread criticism resulting in Cricket Australia issuing an apology and launching an investigation.Also Read - IPL 2022 Auction: Shahrukh Khan, Faf du Plessis to Quinton de Kock, Dwayne Bravo; Stars MS Dhoni's CSK Will Target
However, long before that, Australia legend Shane Warne came under fire for his remark referring Pujara as ‘Steve’ – a nickname that the India batsman was given during his time in county cricket. The point of discussion was that the name Cheteshwar isn’t easy to pronounce and so his teammate in at Yorkshire called him Steve. Also Read - BCCI Announces Revised Venues For West Indies Series in February
The remarks were made on air in jest but the issue is subject to an investigation in English cricket following allegations of institutional racism from two former two Yorkshire employees – Taj Butt and Tony Bowry. Also Read - IPL 2022: KL Rahul Will Emerge As a Phenomenal Leader, Says Sanjiv Goenka
“They called every person of colour ‘Steve’. Even Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name,” Butt had told ESPNcricinfo.
Pujara has addressed the issue saying he never felt being at the receiving end of racism and in fact had a wonderful time playing for Yorkshire. “I never felt I was racially abused,” Pujara told NDTV. “I had a wonderful time playing for Yorkshire. I am not sure if that name ‘Steve’ was used for me in that manner. A friend over there had a hard time pronouncing my name.”
Pujara, who was one of the architects of India’s second consecutive Test series win on Australian soil, is now gearing up for the England Test series starting February 5 with an aim to qualify for the ICC World Test Championship final.
“Looking forward to the England series. Most important aspect is to qualify for the World Test Championship final. The guys are aiming for that. They play good cricket in India. They have done well in Sri Lanka as well. We can’t take them lightly,” Pujara said.
Pujara felt while Australia are a competitive side, they didn’t bat well during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. “Great country to play cricket. Australia are a very competitive team. Our guys showed a lot of character and grit. It was very difficult to accept our low score in Adelaide. We took the rest of the series as a three-match series,” Pujara said.
“The turnaround happened in Melbourne. Once we won in Melbourne and the series was 1-1, we knew we had a chance of winning the series. Australia a good side but did not bat well. From second Test onwards, we achieved the goals that we set as a batting unit,” he added.