Warne to put a positive spin on India
It isn’t a game, it’s no fun, it’s not even Cricket.
But Shane Warne has got into the field to set right a few wrongs, most of all the opinion of a large number of Indians on Australia and Melbourne.
The all-time Cricket great, who has more than 1000 international wickets (Test and One Day International matches) to his credit, agreed to go on a mission to soothe relations between the two countries at the behest of Victoria Premier John Brumby.
“The Indian public love cricket, they love Shane and I think the more we can build on that, the better it will be for our relationship,” he said.
Australia and Australians have been subject to verbal and media attacks in India, after a series of attacks on Indian students occurred in Sydney and Melbourne since May 2009. There were at least two such attacks in the early days of the New Year, leading to one death and one serious burns injury.
Both incidents occurred in Melbourne, where Warne was born and raised.
At press time, he was preparing to meet Mr Brumby, other Victoria State officials and Australian Cricket officials before flying to India.
The right-arm leg spinner, who retired from international cricket three years ago, is currently on a contract to captain and coach the Jaipur based Rajasthan Royals for the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.
Warne said he could make a difference.
“If I can help that friendship, the relationship between both countries and make a difference and help, then I’m putting my hand up to do that.”
A string of attacks on Indian nationals living in Australia since last year triggered protests by Indian students in Australia and generated heavy media coverage in India, including claims that the attacks were race-based.
Last year, the Indian Government sent a parliamentary delegation to Melbourne, apart from lodging protests through its High Commission based in Canberra.
Australian officials have condemned the attacks but say that their country is not racist.
A Reuters report said that the Government was on damage control mode, and that several Australian ministers were to visit India to try to ease negative public perceptions.
Warne said he does not consider racism widespread in Australia.
“Both people are passionate about cricket, both people are passionate about sport.
“Melbourne is a wonderful place to live. The attacks must stop,” he said.
Gautam Gupta, a spokesman for the Federation of Indian Students of Australia that has led demands for more action to protect Indian nationals in Australia, welcomed Warne’s involvement.
“I think it is high time that people like Shane Warne, who are icons in both India and Australia stand up and really defend the relationship,” he said.