Retired professional cricketer Shane Warne has recently landed himself in hot water during his commentary at the Adelaide Test match between Australia and India, which was shown on Fox Sports. During day one of the first test, the 51-year-old referred to the Indian batsman, Pujara Cheteshwar as “Steve” on multiple occasions.
The previously beloved cricket star, Shane Warne, retired from Australia in 2007 having taken 708 Test wickets. However, his use of the already controversial nickname has sparked outrage amongst the cricket community and has been labelled as “racist,” “unprofessional” and “disrespectful”.
It is unclear whether or not Warne was aware of the controversy surrounding the nickname and the current investigation that is ongoing at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club for reports of institutional racism. The investigation came about following a complaint from former England U19 Captain Azeem Rafiq that he was subjected to racism during his time playing for the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Azeem Rafiq is not the only former Yorkshire CCC employee to have experienced racism whilst at the club. Taj Butt has disclosed that all players of colour at the club were referred to as “Steve”. According to Butt, this is not the first time Cheteshwar has experienced being called the racist nickname. Pujara, “was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name.”
To make matters worse, Butt even stated that Pujara’s teammates would continuously be making references to taxi drivers and restaurant workers whenever they were making reference to the Asian community.
This isn’t the first time Cheteshwar has spoken out about the use of this disrespectful nickname. During an interview on ESPN, the 32-year-old understandably stated that he would prefer his teammates to use his real name.
“Well I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it’s difficult to pronounce, so the guys have come up with Steve,” Pujara said during the 2018 interview.
He went on to explain that this started when his teammate, Jack Brooks, could not pronounce his first name and asked him if he had a nickname that they could use. The right-handed batsman answered that he did not. Because of this, Pujara said the team decided to call him Steve. He claimed that “Initially, they started calling me ‘Puj’, but they have started calling me Steve again.” The polite cricketer gamely said that “It’s a good nickname, but I prefer Cheteshwar.” While Cheteshwar did not outright accuse his teammates of being racist, it is clear that the nickname makes him uncomfortable and he would prefer they didn’t use it.
Understandably, this has led to a huge backlash amongst the cricket community with many taking to Twitter to air their thoughts. One fan argued Warne should have known and that “A little bit of context would help this Aus commentary panel realise that the Pujara “Steve” reference is no laughing matter #AUSvIND”.
It is reported that Warne has yet to comment on this contention. However, Fox Sports have been asked to release a statement.