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Records show sub-continent’s growing influence in Australia

The Indian sub-continent has transformed from a cricketing afterthought in Australia to a financial powerhouse increasingly important to players and officials Down Under, a history of Cricket Australia reveals.

The book “Inside Story” by Gideon Haigh and David Frith examines the archives of Cricket Australia, formerly the Australian Cricket Board, to present a warts-and-all account of the game’s history.

The official record charts the change in attitude in the often tempestuous relationship between Australia and the sub-continent.

Until the 1950s, the book says, Australian cricket administrators “manifested little interest in the cricket world beyond the ‘Anglosphere’,” — England, New Zealand and apartheid-era South Africa. “Australia and the sub-continent have little in common beyond cricket,” the book says.

“Their cricket relations, consequently, have been fertile ground for mutual incomprehension, since the days when India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were alien places to tour and dealing with local officialdom was a game of cat and mouse.”

One flashpoint came in Perth in 1981, when Australian paceman Dennis Lillee kicked Javed Miandad as he ran a single, prompting the Pakistan captain to raise his bat above his head as if to strike Lillee.

Described by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack as “one of the most undignified incidents in Test history”, the records show some board members believed Lillee’s suspension for two-one day internationals was far too lenient.

Tensions heightened in 1994 when Australians Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh alleged Pakistan captain Salim Malik offered them money to underperform during a tour. Malik was subsequently banned from cricket for life.

It later emerged that Warne and Waugh had been fined around the same time for giving an Indian bookmaker information about pitch conditions but Australian authorities kept the matter secret for almost four years.

The book says Sri Lankan sensibilities were offended when Australian umpires called Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing bowling improperly in 1996 and 1999, a controversy the board tried to stay away from.

“No Sri Lankan regarded (Australian umpires) as impartial arbiters of fairness: they saw Australians victimising one of their countrymen,” the book says.

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