January 8, 2008

A Question of Integrity, Arrogance and Racial Slurs

It has been about two days since the events at the Sydney Cricket Ground and there is still a lot of speculation surrounding the issue of India being "cheated" of a fair result. The inquiry into Symond's complaint about Harbhajan racially abusing him has a rather weird result- Harbhajan being banned for 3 Tests. Now, you may think why I am calling this "weird" and not "unfair", "shocking" or something more intense. It is just that there are a lot of loopholes in this verdict. It may actually be fair to call this entire affair "unfair"! But instead of doing that, I would like to bring forth some facts regarding the case.

According to Symonds, Harbhajan apparently hit Brett Lee during the course of his partnership with Sachin Tendulkar. Symonds couldn't take this and hit out at Harbhajan who allegedly called Symonds a "monkey". Now, the umpires had not heard anything (which is quite obvious as they couldn't even hear the ball hitting the bat!) and the ICC Match Referee, Mike Procter too didn't hear a word. Moreover, there wasn't any proof- be it audio or video and all that was relied upon by Procter to make this decision was the collective witness account delivered by Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mathew Hayden. Sachin Tendulkar wasn't even asked for a witness account throughout the inquiry which lasted four gruelling hours. As Navjot Singh Sidhu pointed out on a news channel, not listening to a person of Tendulkar's stature, one who has played the game with dignity for 18 years and instead accepting Clarke's word is utter nonsense! Clarke is literally a baby if you compare him to Tendulkar in terms of experience and his integrity too is in doubt after the incident regarding Ganguly's dismissal during the last day's play. His arrogance is just like his captain Ponting, while Ponting keeps saying that the match was played in the right spirit, Clarke still believes that he took Ganguly's catch cleanly, as if the videos are lying!

With the overwhelming support for the Indian Cricket Team even by the Australian public, it will be interesting to note where the issue goes from here. In the polls conducted by Australian newspapers a majority of the Aussies feel that the umpires gave India a raw deal and that the Australian team isn't a bunch of sports. Also, most of them feel that Ponting isn't a good ambassador for the game. Peter Roebuck, who is probably the most respected and celebrated cricket
writer in the world too gave some really harsh comments about Ponting's captaincy and even went on to say that he should be sacked! He wrote, "In the past few days Ponting has presided over a performance that dragged the game into the pits. He turned a group of professional cricketers into a pack of wild dogs. As much can be told from the conduct of his closest allies in the team. As usual, Matthew Hayden crossed himself upon reaching three figures in his commanding second innings, a gesture he does not perform while wearing the colours of his state. Exactly how he combines his faith with throwing his weight around on the field has long bemused opposing sides, whose fondness for him ran out a long time ago." He also went on to write, "Beyond comparison it was the ugliest performance put up by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not packed their bags and gone home. There is no justice for them in this country, nor any manners."

India in return has filed a charge of abuse against Aussie spinner Brad Hogg, who allegedly used foul language on Anil Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the course of the match. Also, the ICC has removed Bucknor as the umpire of the 3rd Test and has replaced him with Billy Bowden. India has also filed an appeal against the decision taken on Harbhajan Singh.

Personally, one thing that I won't forget about the television coverage of the match is Sunil Gavaskar's commentary for Star Cricket. Given below are the Youtube links for the comments made by him-
Someone on BBC's Cricket Blog wrote this comic news headline when Bucknor was removed as the umpire for the 3rd Test at Perth-

Bucknor out, Hayden doubtful for Perth.

An Australian side, which is already suffering from the non-availability of key player Mark Benson got another setback today, when star all-rounder Steve Bucknor got banned by the ICC. His partnership with super hero Andrew Symonds and Tricky Ponting has been the foundation of the glorious Australian win. When left handed opener Matthew Hayden got injured, that became a minor concern for Tricky, who can't believe the decision of the ICC to ban his Star All-rounder. Tricky will also have to deal with Harbhajan Singh, who showed the whole world that Tricky has no idea about playing quality spin, and therefore can never be considered in the same class of King Brian Charles Lara or the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

I loved the way he presented his comments. Funny and at the same time conveying how much the umpires helped the Australian cause. Some people actually say that Benson and Bucknor were competing with each other to give favours to Australia! It would also be notable to add that 63% of the readers of the Sydney Morning Herald agreed with Peter Roebuck's stance about Ponting being sacked as captain of the Australian Cricket Team. Now, its time to wait and see the spirit in which the next Test is played.

Have a look at the links below for an insight into the farcical affair-

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