Australian Test legend Shane Warne has been caught up in a racism storm after referring to Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara as “Steve” during the first Test in Adelaide.
The Indian stalwart was given the nickname when he played county cricket for Yorkshire in England, and it was also raised by Warne and others during India’s last tour of Australia in 2018/19.
Warne referred to Pujara as “Steve” on the Fox Cricket broadcast numerous times during India’s first innings on Thursday.
Pujara has spoken about the nickname before and revealed it was given to him by English teammates because his name was hard to pronounce.
But it comes amid an avalanche of racist allegations being levelled at Yorkshire, first raised by player Azeem Rafiq which sparked an investigation by the England and Wales Cricket board.
This week Rafiq also filed a legal complaint against the club alleging racism and discrimination and the Pakistan-born spinner‘s claims were backed by other ex-Yorkshire cricketers and staff.
One former Yorkshire employee, Taj Butt, also alleged that players called “called every person of colour ‘Steve’.
“Even Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name,” Butt told ESPN cricinfo.
Warne’s comments earned a wide rebuke across social media, labelled as ’unprofessional’ and ’racist’.
Your comment reeks of casual racism, which isn't cool at all Ramesh. @ShaneWarne#racism pic.twitter.com/90EN6yQY8Y
Re-upping this for anyone who thinks it's okay to call Cheteshwar Pujara "Steve" even though he has said he prefers his own name. It's not okay. It's racist. Do better @ShaneWarne and @YorkshireCCC. https://t.co/wSje13exV4
One fan wrote on Twitter: “Referring to Pujara as ‘Steve’ is: a) unprofessional, b) disrespectful, C) racist. Learn to say his name”.
Warne was also accused of being a party to casual racism.
On Shane Warne's tone deafness (or simply, casual racism)
And how #CheteshwarPujara came to be called Steve at Yorkshire.
(Yorkshire faces allegations of institutionalised racism)https://t.co/JSYyvzmbOi
In 2018 Pujara revealed the origins of the nickname which was created by Yorkshire teammate Jack Brooks.
“Well I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it’s difficult to pronounce so the guys have come up with Steve,” Pujara told ESPN in 2018.
“But personally, I would prefer Cheteshwar. Jack Brooks started off with this. He couldn’t pronounce my first name so he was asking me what nickname do I have. I said I don’t have any.
“So they said, ‘we will start calling you Steve’. Initially, they started calling me ‘Puj’, but they have started calling me Steve again. It’s a good nickname, but I prefer Cheteshwar.”
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