Cheteshwar Pujara put on a dogged show of resistance on the opening day of the 1st Test between India and Australia in Adelaide on Thursday, but was directed to ‘casual racism’ from commentator Shane Warne during his knock, according to fans.
On air with Fox Cricket during the first session, Warne referred to the nickname given to Pujara during his county cricket stint with Yorkshire. Cheteshwar Pujara’s name was “not the easiest to pronounce” and so his English teammates referred to him as ‘Steve’, the former leg spinner said, sporting a cap which he said was a “tribute to Peaky Blinders”.
— News Cricket (@NewsCorpCricket) December 17, 2020
The matter of Pujara being referred to as ‘Steve’ is a controversial one — on December 5, former Yorkshire captain Azeem Rafiq had filed a legal complaint against the team for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race. The charges are under investigation, with Pujara’s stint at the club also having been mentioned as evidence by former employees.
Pujara had said earlier that it was a nickname given to him by his Yorkshire teammates because they could not pronounce his first name.
“Well I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it’s difficult to pronounce so the guys have come up with Steve,” Pujara is quoted as saying by cricket.com.au in 2018.
Referring to Pujara as ‘Steve’ is:
Learn to say his name
— Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee) December 17, 2020
Sick. Casual racism.
— Jamie Alter (@alter_jamie) December 17, 2020
Especially in the context of what’s happening in Yorkshire cricket, when that nickname takes on a different hue.
— Karthik Krishnaswamy (@the_kk) December 17, 2020
Warne also took a dig at Pujara after the batsman stopped play, with Mitchell Starc steaming in, to adjust the sightscreen.
Shane Warne said in commentary for Fox Cricket: “Look how wide the sightscreen is. Come on, that (cover) can’t be putting him off. Are you for real? That can’t be it! That’s not serious.”
Listening to Fox Cricket Broadcast. Shane warne saying if you are indian batsman you have lots of problem with sightscreen.
— Andy. (@WeBleedBlue007) December 17, 2020
India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat in the opening day-night Test against Australia in Adelaide on Thursday. Indian openers Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal departed in the first session, but Pujara and Kohli put on a show of resistance then onwards.