Australian cricketer Shane Warne has drawn ire of cricket fans for referring to Indian cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara as "Steve" and saying that the latter's name is too hard to pronounce.
Warne was speaking about Pujara on air after the match between India and Australia in Adelaide on Thursday and casually referred to the latter as "Steve". According to reports, Warne also went on to discuss with his fellow commentators that Pujara's name was quite difficult to pronounce. Hence, he preferred to use the nickname that was commonly used for Pujara by his former Yorkshire teammates.
However, cricket fans have now accused Warne of casual racism for refusing to learn his colleague, Pujara's actual name. Warne's comments come amid a raging debate about racism by the players and workers at English club Yorkshire.
Earlier this year, Former England under-19 captain Azeem Rafiq has claimed that he was targeted racially during his playing days at English county Yorkshire, which almost drove him to the brink of taking his own life.
Pakistan born Rafiq has said that club was a hub for 'institutional racism' and did nothing to change their ways. On December 5, Rafiq also filed a legal complaint against the English team after claiming direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race. Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018, is also claiming victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club.
Employees and players of the club have backed these claims. According to reports, two former employees of the club, Taj Butt and Tony Bowry, have affirmed that Asian cricketers were often targeted for their race. They said that members of the club would refer to all persons of colour as Steve.
"They called every person of colour 'Steve'. Even Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name," a PTI report stated, quoting the two employees.
This is how fans reacted:
Referring to Pujara as ‘Steve’ is:a) unprofessional b) disrespectfulc) racistLearn to say his name— Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee) December 17, 2020
Sick. Casual racism.— Jamie Alter (@alter_jamie) December 17, 2020
@ShaneWarne I am sure you know Steve nickname was racial remark for players of colour in Yorkshire.Least you can do is not joke about giving the name to @cheteshwar1 in commentary@Sunil_Gavaskar@ICC @BCCI @CricketAus#indvsaus2020 #TestCrickethttps://t.co/W0CfGGPYiQ— Ashutosh Dalal (@seeker_ashutosh) December 17, 2020
Goes on to show what is the importance of reading at least about the sport that earns you bread and butter. @7Cricket commentators @ShaneWarne and others are laughing about Pujara's nickname 'Steve' and I am optimistic that they're naive about the racist context of that name. https://t.co/yyWbFrqpJI— Mayank (@kmayank9) December 17, 2020
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
In fact, Pujara had himself spoken up about his nickname in the past. In 2018, according to a report by Crictracker, Pujara had said that he would have preferred it if people called him by his name but he had to settle for "Steve" because it was easier for them to pronounce.