The first ODI between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on November 27 witnessed a surprising period of play when two protesters’ misconduct held-up the action after only a few overs were bowled.
Australian skipper Aaron Finch won the toss and decided to bat against India, but after playing only six overs, the game came to a rather unusual halt. Two fans, bearing placards somehow made their way onto the ground as the players stood around wondering what was happening.
Through a gross pitch invasion, the protestors allegedly seemed to have broken the secure bio bubbles, under which the matches are being played amidst the pandemic. Their misconduct forced the security officials to escort the duo out of the ground, albeit after a considerable delay. As it turns out, having spectators back in the stadium poses more risks, other than the possible spread of coronavirus.
Cricket fans and sports enthusiasts heavily criticized the violation of the match for a politically driven agenda as the protesters brought the first international cricket match of the summer to a halt. The spectators returned in a 50% capacity to the stadium after an 8-month exile for witnessing the first of the three-match ODI series between India and Australia at the SCG. Men's cricket saw fans cheering for the first time since March, only for the match to be disrupted due to a protest.
For long, sports have been a unifying factor, going beyond countries, nationalities and everything in between. It brings people together for the love of a solid, good game – embodying the quintessential sporting spirit. Any incident, even remotely political, that violates the decorum of a game is not appreciated and this one will go down in history as being highly uncalled for – dragging activism to a cricket pitch, where it clearly does not belong.
Unsurprisingly, the security guards were criticized for their lax response, although, the reason for the delay in escorting the protesters out of the ground remains unknown.
Cricket enthusiasts noted on social media that it took the officials fairly long to realize that these were trespassers and to respond accordingly, increasing pressure to review the security protocols in place.