Australia don’t expect Murali to face racist abuse

SYDNEY, Oct 23, 2007 (AFP) – Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Tuesday he did not believe Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan would face racist abuse from crowds during their upcoming tour. Sutherland was responding to reported comments from former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga advising Murali to skip the tour in the wake of Australia’s recent racially-charged one-day series in India.

Ranatunga told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper from Colombo that it would be best for the spinner to miss the series, given the abuse he has previously suffered from Australian crowds about his controversial bowling action.

“I told him I wish he wasn’t touring Australia because of the amount of trouble he has had,” Ranatunga told the newspaper.

Sutherland said he was pleased Murali was visiting Australia after boycotting a previous tour in 2004, and he was confident local crowds would not resort to racial abuse.

“I’m not concerned about it,” he said. “We had a major campaign last year to increase awareness and understanding — people know where the line is drawn,” he told reporters.

“There is no place for racism in cricket. We will take the strictest, harshest action possible if