Indian pacer Mohammed Siraj has set a new standard for calling out poor crowd behaviour, Australia's top off-spinner Nathan Lyon said on Wednesday (13 January 2021) describing cricket as a sport for all with no room for racism or abuse of any form.
The Indian team had lodged an official complaint with the ICC after a group of spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground racially abused pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj on the third and fourth day of the third Test.
"There is no room for any racial sledges or any abuse in any type. People think they are being funny, but it can affect people in different ways. For me, cricket is the sport for all and there is no room for it at all," Lyon said during a virtual press conference.
"If the time is right to call in match officials you do it. We have got a lot of security around the ground these days and if there is anyone doing it then they can be removed, as there is absolutely no place for it. It well may set precedence to report issues to officials."
While fielding at the square-leg boundary, Siraj was allegedly called "monkey" and "brown dog" over two days by some spectators, who were removed by security guards after the matter was reported to the on-field umpires.
"I think it's quite disgusting to be honest. Yes, I've been on the other end of it, coping abuse, whether that's England, New Zealand, South Africa or wherever it may be. But there's no room for it. As a player you've got to try your best to block it out," Lyon said.
He feels that players would now have the option of stopping play and call out their abusers in the stands.
"It well may do (set a precedence to report issues to officials). It will be up to that player and how they have been affected.
"I just really hope in a whole world society, we can get over it and people can come to watch us play cricket, with players not going to work and not be worried about being abused or racially abused," the country's experienced spinner said.
The Australian players had supported their Indian counterparts after the incidents with skipper Tim Paine even joining the visiting team huddle after Siraj's complaints on the fourth day of the drawn match.
The four-match series is currently tied 1-1 with the fourth Test scheduled to be held from Friday.
It's still not advantage Australia, believes Lyon
It's still not advantage Australia, believes Lyon, despite playing the series-deciding fourth Test against an injury-ravaged Indian team at a venue where the home team's record is second to none.
The seasoned campaigner refused to overlook the grit and gumption showed by the Indians in the drawn third Test in Sydney.
"I wouldn't say that (Australia have the advantage). You look at the class throughout the Indian squad, yes they will be missing a couple of big players but they have got a talented squad they can pick from," Lyon said.
India will be forced to field a second-string bowling attack with all their premier pacers, including Bumrah and spin-bowling allrounder Ravindra Jadeja ruled out with injuries.
"To be honest, we have to worry about our preparation. We can't look too far at what they are doing. As bowlers, we are very well suited for the Gabba and hopefully we can put them into play nice and early when we have the ball in hand."
Australia head to the venue on the back of a fine record, having won 33, drawn 13, tied one and lost eight out of the 55 matches played at Brisbane.
"We do have an amazing record here at Gabba, we do have the confidence and we know how to play a really positive brand of cricket here at Brisbane. But we can't rest on that. We know how talented India are and how hungry they are to win this series."
Lyon was effusive in his praise for fellow offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin, adding that the Indian has done well to adapt to the Australian conditions.
"Ashwin has bowled very well, I have said throughout my career that he is a world class bowler. Absolutely incredible to watch, he has definitely adapted well coming in to Australia, so hats off to him."
Talking about teammate Steve Smith, who was accused of scuffing up Rishabh Pant's guard in Sydney, Lyon said the star batsman was trying to help him and does it in every Test.
"I'm really disappointed with the way that everyone has jumped on the back of him. He's played close to 80-odd Test matches and I think he's done that in every Test match he's ever played," Lyon said.
"Even though we weren't batting in the rest of that Test, he was still thinking about batting and he does it to help me as well. He's looking at where I should pitch the ball, what pace I need to bowl on that wicket, so it's all about conversation," he added.
Lyon said that skipper Tim Paine, who came under fire after his verbal duel against Ashwin in the third Test, showed great character by owning up to his mistakes after the match.
"I think Paine showed a lot of humility and a great leader attitude to put his hand up and say that he didn't play the game he wanted to play. Yes, we didn't have the game we wanted, he probably became too emotional in the game but he's owned that."
One of the most successful spinners in the modern era, with 396 Test wickets to his name, Lyon will be eyeing his 400th scalp while playing in his landmark 100th Test at the Gabba.
"I'm going to pinch myself when my name goes up alongside those guys (who have played 100 Tests). In my eyes those 12 players are absolute legends of Australian and world cricket, it's pretty amazing."
Reflecting on the highs and lows of his career, the offspinner said he's far from being done and is more motivated than ever.
"There's been some highs and lows. The Adelaide Test against India in 2014, that was probably the biggest high in my career but you look at Edgbaston and that is another amazing high, then you go to Leeds and it was the other end of the ladder.
"This is my 100th and I'm far from being done, I'm still as hungry as ever and want to go and play as much cricket as I can for Australia," Lyon said.