India has been playing in Australia. Tests so far and contrary to my usual cricket obsession I haven't been watching it or keeping track of what has been happening.
But the little of what I have read, seems mainly to do with atrocious umpiring and racism.
The latest being Harbhajan Singh banned for 3 Test Matches after allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a monkey. A 6 hour long session was held by the match referee Mike Proctor and he ruled that Harbhajan Singh was guilty of casting a racial slur and therefore banned him.
How he arrived at this conclusion is beyond me. There is no actual evidence of his having said something like that. Proctor also paid no heed to Sachin Tendulkar who was at the crease with Bhajji at the time of the incident. Symonds's words backed by Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden was taken as the truth and the ban imposed.
Procter made a statement at the hearing, saying, "There is only one team right here." And from his judgement it is obvious which team that was. He didn't consider Sachin Tendulkar's statement, the man who has an unblemished record. The Indian team apparently came away from the hearing feeling 'criminals'.
The players too have rallied around Bhajji, aghast at the way a teammate has been treated and I for one couldn't be happier. This is a team. One for all and all for one.
Sledging is not covered in any cricket rule book. So it just can’t be on. Any back chat between bowler and batsman ought to be stamped out on the cricket field. If a team want to “mentally disintegrate” another team, is a bat and ball and hands not enough? If the tools of cricket are not sufficient, then let us also not talk about “lines in the sand”. There are no lines in the sand! The mafia cannot ask for a book to be written on good and bad ways of killing. Killing is unlawful. Period.
I do agree that if Harbhajan made a racial comment and that's a big IF. He should be punished but only if it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Not when there is no proof and when the word of one player is taken over another.
What is being done about Brad Hogg who insulted the Indian Captain Anil Kumble calling him a bastard which to me at least is much much worse than calling someone a monkey.Is he being banned or is he being forgiven cause he's Australian and thereby have a blind eye turned towards the issue.
As of now, the Indian team has been asked to remain put in Sydney and not proceed towards Cranberra for a practice match while the ICC has been asked to drop the ban by the BCCI. The BCCI is also allegedly considering abandoning the entire series and asking India to return home.
And I for one, am totally for this idea. The message needs to be sent out that we aren't a country of pushovers and we aren't going to take blatant injustice lying down. Why are India and other South Asian countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc always penalized while Australia and South Africa walk away scott free. What happened to fair play and decency? To justice for all?
I disagree with a lot of stuff the BCCI says and does, an example is right here. The BCCI's statement says, " The Indian Board realizes the game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honour of the Indian team and for that matter every Indian. To vindicate its position, the board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player."
The BCCI is making a brilliant move here. Standing up for a player and refusing to bow down. The board will rise in the estimation of all the cricket fans in Indian for backing up a player.
The BCCI has also asked the ICC to ask Steve Bucknor and Mike Benson to step down from umpiring the third test and I personally think it is something that was a long time coming. It was the sub-standard umpiring that sent India hurtling to a 122 run defeat.Their decision making was horrible. Why not use technology when you are in doubt? Why didn't Benson consult Bucknor before giving Saurav Ganguly out in a controversial catch.There is no other word for it. What happened to giving the benefit of the doubt to the batsmen?
The Indian fans have taken to burning effigies of Bucknor and Benson and while I am normally against doing something like that, this time I'm actually wishing I had an effigy to burn too!
And lastly I have a great deal of ire to vent with regards to the Australians and sledging. Even the ICC President Malcolm Gray had admitted that, "Australians are not liked around the world". Every national cricket team has a dislike on the field and that is the Australian team. While it may be true that this team will go down in history as one of the greatest teams we've seen in a while. It is also true that it will known as one of the most badly behaved teams ever.
One of the most shocking incidents being in the West Indies in 2003 between Glen McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
McGrath: "So what does Brian Lara's d**k taste like?"
Sarwan: I don't know. Ask your wife.
McGrath(Losing it): If you ever f^$king mention my wife again, I'll f#@king rip your throat out.
Another famous incident was between Michael Slater and Rahul Dravid in Bombay in the 2001 test.
Slater was seen arguing with the umpire and Dravid. The third umpire had ruled Dravid not out after Slater had dived forward to take a catch at mid-wicket. Slater who said he had chatted amiably with Dravid in the dressing room after play, felt that Dravid should have accepted his word and walked.
He was let off with a warning by match referee Cammie Smith. Why am I not surprised?
There's more to come.
In the Boxing Day Test in the 1999-2000 series, the match referee Rajan Madugalle didn't utter a word when Ricky Ponting abused Javagal Srinath in full view of the spectators and the T.V cameras.
But when Australia files a complaint, the entire cricketing world comes to a halt and makes sure that justice is administered to them. And all of this happens only when Australia seems to be losing. They give meaning to the word Sore Losers.
To add to all of this are some sections of the Australian media which are coming out in defence of Andrew Symonds with irrelevant articles and opinions. The Australian is a prime example of this with articles by Malcolm Conn and Peter Lalor.
The articles are senseless, irrelevant and have no connection with the issue at hand. They have already confirmed Harbhjan as the perpetrator of the crime thereby resorting to the kind of sensationalism that sells newspapers. What does Bhajji's marrying off his sisters and going to Canada to drive trucks have to do anything with the racism issue at hand. And also, it seems a slight on the Indian to insinuate that he would go to Canada and indulge in a blue collar job instead of which he decided to stay and play cricket.
Malcolm Conn pays no heed to Sachin Tendulkar who was present when it happens and is already firm that Harbhajan Singh is guilty.
Peter Lalor traces the roots of Ponting Vs Harbhajan Singh and all the other problems Harbhajan Singh has had with his temper thereby potraying him as someone who regularly mouths off and has no control over his mouth when he is angry.
"Unlike other Sikhs in the side, he is conservative and adheres to the religious demands that his hair be covered and uncut, although when he shot an advertisement in 2006 without the patka, it caused an outcry with the main Sikh religious board demanding an apology and activists burning his effigy."
He has never been of such a mind when it came to clashes with the Australian team.
Ummm. How many other Sikhs are in the Indian Team? And just, by the way, how many times has an Australian player apologised for sledging and anything else.
I'm waiting and watching now and praying that the BCCI brings the Indian team home and if they do decide to stay, an unconditional apology for Harbhajan Singh.
Where is their sporting spirit? They love to stir, intimidate and annoy the opposition. They dish out abuse to everyone but are pathetic when it comes to taking some.
Well done, Team India.
And for those of you who want more sledging incidents, click here.
Edited To Add:- The ICC has responded to the demand made by the BCCI. Steve Bucknor has been booted from the tour and is replaced by New Zealand's Billy Bowden for the third test. Whether India will play the third test is still unclear. Harbhajan's Singh ban meanwhile has been stayed while the ICC reviews it abd he will be able to play at Perth. Across the country, fans have been rejoicing and I'm tempted to go out on the road and join them. Tempting Thought.
Finally some justice.
The Sydney Morning Herald in the meanwhile has published an opinion article in favour of the Indians by Peter Roebuck demanding his removal. To read, click here.
Mike Procter says that he intends to continue as match referee for the rest of the series and that the BCCI's appeals and threats of abandoning the series were tantamount to a gun on the ICC's head. Well, what the bloody hell were we supposed to do in the face of blatant discrimination.
Allan Border and Steve Waugh meanwhile seem to blame it on a cultural misunderstanding and while I agree with them on some points. I do think Australia needs to apologise. Just because it happens on their backyards and schoolyards doesn't mean they need to act like that on an International level.
Kapil Dev has called the Indian team the most gentle team in the world. And while this very gentleness pisses me off otherwise. Right now I'm proud to have a team like that representing my country. For playing aggressively and playing dirty are two entirely different things.
I have had a change of opinion from yesterday though. I was all for India chucking everything and coming back home. Third test be damned. However, today I feel that will be playing into Australia's hands. Handing them a win on a platter. Instead what the India team needs to do is go out there all guns firing and bring Australia down to their knees.