Gavaskar V Ponting (revisited)


A few things have to be said: (a) Australian cricketers do behave badly on the field, (b) Sunil Gavaskar was wrong in commenting on David Hookes, (c) Gavaskar was right to talk about the behaviour of Australian cricketers, (d) This has nothing to do with India’s performance (or the lack of it).

We have talked about this quite a bit on this blogsite.

Rohit Brijnath writes very eloquently about this saga in The Hindu.

There are some significant cultural differences at play here. An Aussie would think that it is ok to bark at you on the field and then have a drink afterwards. They can live with that form of schizophrenic compartmentalisation. Subcontinental teams cannot seem to live with it. Gavaskar cannot. And Australians cannot expect other teams to be naturally comfortable with that schizophrenic compartmentalisation. And therein lies part of the problem.

Alan Border says that the Aussies play “hard but fair”. The rest of the world perhaps doesn’t’ see it that way! Perhaps the Australians are just misunderstood cricketers? Who knows.

Either way Gavaskar’s point is valid…

The Australian’s are the most penalised team in World Cricket.

So, either the rest of the World has to start to understand them more or the Australians need to learn to tone down.

The Australians aren’t the only grumpy team going around. The South Africans come close, but having watched the Aussies in action over a long period of time, I can safely say that the Australians are the ugliest team going around.

They are currently in a huge war-of-words with The South Africans.

The captain started that war of words. The captain should set a tone. Not drag it down. If the captain can’t control a malaise — and indeed, there is one, in my view — then, he shouldn’t be on the park.

But let us pause to think about the Australians. I’ve written earlier about how the Australians do not like to receive as well as they dish it out. Let us think about some of the most hated players in Australia. If one were asked to name the three most hated international cricketers in Australia, you won’t be wrong if you came up with (a) Arjuna Ranatunga, (b) Sourav Ganguly, (c) Greame Smith. Some cricketers that come close to the above list include Manoj Prabhakar, Sunil Gavaskar (post-retirement), Andre Nel, et al. I’d like to predict that Sree Sreesanth will be on this list soon.

Why?

These players give back as good as they receive. They use that 4th dimension (some legal and some not so legal) to get further ahead. They are as Aussie (or perhaps even more Aussie) than the Aussies themselves! Yet, they are the most hated! Isn’t this a strange hypocricy? Perhaps the Aussie cricketers hate themselves (and what they do) so much that they instinctively hate anyone who does it as well — or better — than themselves? I am not a psychologist. So I am not about to indulge in needless amateur psychology here.

Ponting says that often champions are hated. Wrong. The West Indies were not hated. Roger Federer is not hated. Tiger Woods is not hated.

In an earlier article, I wrote:

To be “a sport” is to be fair, even-handed, respectful and level-headed in things that you do in the sporting field — and these days, out of it too. Impact comes not merely from the number of cups that one has in ones trophy cabinet. History differentiates great sporting teams from good ones on the basis of how the team played and not merely on how many cups the team won. Long lasting success comes only if the ‘means’ and the ‘ends’ are balanced. The end rarely justifies the means.

A true champion (and almost everyones’ sporting hero), will be a Roger Federer or a Tiger Woods or a Sachin Tendulkar. They enjoy their sport. They play fair. They play hard. They play strong. They dig deep when their backs are to the wall. They query bad calls. But they get on with it. They have fun. They leave an impression. They are modest. They are level-headed. They are geniuses. They are also as good on the field as they are out of it. They are icons. They are role-models.

We like them not just because they win. That is a fact. They just do! We like them because of the way they win.

I will applaud when Federer or Tiger Woods or Tendulkar win (for they are true champions). I will also empathise with them when they lose.

However, I will continue to rejoice (along with the whole world, perhaps?) when Australia loses. The difference is that they are champions of the game (temporary). They are not champions of the sport (permanent).

So it does depend on ones outlook. Do we want temporary success or permanent glory?

May be it is time for the Aussies to ponder why almost the whole cricketing world dislikes them. If they believe the world hates them because they keep winning, they need to look at Federer and Tiger Woods (habitual winners who are loved) of the world and learn a bit.

Ponting and Cricket Australia need a re-think.

Does Gavaskar have a right to comment about all of this? In my view he does. He did play the game in the “right spirit”. So, he is not being “self righteous”. Ian Chappell commenting about the “spirit of cricket” would be self-righteous pontification. Gavaskar has earned his stripes, in my view.

Gavaskar’s method of retort — the mentioning of Hookes — was silly. He did cross the line there. But kudos to him for bringing Australian bad behaviour up — again!

— Mohan

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13 responses to “Gavaskar V Ponting (revisited)

  1. Santanu Chatterjee

    It is true that australian cricketers are really rude and really very worst kind of people. They always try to win mind game by verbal abuse in the field. Unfortunately, ICC do not penalize them the way the penalize when a cricketer from subcontinent uses foul language in the field.

    Its a pity that color and race is still very dominant in cricket. This is why I personally lost interest in cricket.

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  3. Nel is well liked in Australia, from what i know. Paul Collingwood dished it out here aswell, and nobody is burning effigies of him.

    Also mentioning Ganguly, the guy is reviled all over the cricket world, not just here. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  4. It would be interesting to define what constitutes sledging and what doesn’t? It is never always black and white. Consider the following scenarios –

    – Wicket Keeper shouting encouragement to the bowler
    – ‘Keeper asking the batsman to try and hit the ball for a six
    – ‘Keeper making jokes about the batsman to the slip fielder so that the batsman can hear it
    – ‘Keeper telling the batsman that he couldn’t even play club cricket in his country
    – ‘Keeper making a remark about the batsman’s girlfriend
    – ‘Keeper commenting on the colour of the batsman’s skin

    It kind of starts moving from white to black with several (dark) shades of gray in between. Depending on your cultural background, some of it can be tolerated and some can’t. Some comments, no matter where you come from, are just plain wrong. But, how can you control what gets said out there in the field? The stump mikes can’t catch everything – neither can the umpires. It is very hard to monitor and control. Sadly, sledging is here to stay and we may as well get used to it.

    The age old Aussie adage of “Whatever happens in the field stays in the field” also no longer applies. Sledging continues off the field, with players making comments about the opposition as soon as the visiting team arrives. The thing is that, although the Aussies are frequently accused of sledging, other countries aren’t far behind. As you’ve mentioned, Mohan – Sreesanth is a very good example of an Indian cricketer who would rank very high on the “World’s top sledgers” list. If sledging is bad, what is worse is the intensity with which younger players (world over) are picking it up. All this is really not good for cricket. It probably used to be a gentleman’s game, but it no longer is.

    Getting back to the topic, I agree with your observations.

    Gavaskar may be completely wrong about his assessment of the Aussies, but he certainly has the right to criticise them and voice his opinion. Ponting is spot on about the Indian cricket team not having won too many matches, but he was wrong in quoting it out of context as a reply to Gavaskar’s comments and turning it into a personal attack on Sunny. Similarly, Gavaskar may be right in saying that the kind of language used in the field will not be tolerated in a pub, but it was wrong to bring up Hooksey.

    One thing I would like to add is that Aussies generally don’t consider themselves to be arrogant. They think that the confidence and swagger that they carry with them is probably mistaken for arrogance. This may actually be true, but incidents such as the way they bundled out the chief guest at the Champions trophy haven’t helped this image. I have to add that sledging has been one of the biggest contributors to this image.

    I would like to mention something that happened during the Sydney Olympics. American athletes were considered arrogant and boorish. They were even booed and jeered in some venues. If the Aussie public back then thought the American athletes as arrogant, the majority of cricket supporters across the world now hold the same image of the Aussie cricketer. If they want to change this image, a small start would be to stop sledging. And maybe the rest of the world will follow suit…

    Meanwhile, let us get on with it and enjoy the World cup.

  5. And now McGrath jumps in to fuel the fire.

  6. I find it funny that Gavaskar makes these comments when BCCI employed an Australian as Indian coach.

  7. Gavaskar once got issues with West Indies as well and he\’s now praising them.

    http://www.cricinfo.com/link_to_database/ARCHIVE/2001-02/IND_IN_WI/NOSTALGIA/30APR2002.html

    To speak like that then and now is not only hypocritical and I am ashamed to know that he represents India in one way or other.

  8. ( as an umpire with 12 years experience , albeit in local/park cricket, I feel justified in giving the following opinion)
    The fundamental problem with on field sledging/bad behaviour is that the umpires’ role have been severely diminished by committees involving and / chaired by retired players like Gavaskar, Holding, Border et al. All the match referees are EX Players–NOT ONE RETIRED UMPIRE–do you think ex players will penalise curreent players of another country –knowing well that other referees will protect players from his own country next time around

    In Chennai, Venkat and WI Umpire should have reported M Slater over Dravid catch incident–they didn’t–then ICC had to force the umpires to report a few days after the incident due to pressure from armchair experts from all over the world!!! Why?–because the Umpires are getting castrated by committees made up of ex-players
    Just to protect a disabled javelin thrower, bowling arm degrees were incresed–none visible to the umpires’ eys on the field—-Law 42 on over head high bouncers is not followed in international matches as countries do not their fast bowlers to be taken out of attack for the rest of the innings after 3 such bouncers–again retired players like gavaskar et al chair or members of the committee –these balls are called wides and a bowler can bowl as many as he wants
    Now, the awarding of matches when a team refuses to continue–has been taken away from umpires and given to match referees after the Pak–England match–where I back my brother d Hair 1000 per cent–who are the referees–EX PLAYERS APPOINTED BY GAVASKAR ET AL

    If Gavaskar wants to continue to comment like what he has done, it is time he resigned as Chairman of/ member ICC committees and then go full bore on all 6 cylinders!!!!

    sampath

  9. Sampath,

    I do know of your excellent umpiring record at all levels and we are grateful that you take the time to make comments here.

    Your point is well made.

    Yes, the whole system should be seen as more than “jobs for the boys”. Currently it is.

    You talk of the “Dravid V Slater catch incident”. I think the “McGrath V Sarawan” incident did as much, if not more image-damage. The Referee then was Mike Proctor!

    On the Pakistan V England issue… Sigh! Another debate for another day please… Your “brother D Hair”? C’mon Sam. Don’t stir please 🙂

    Question: Is Gavaskar (as Chair of the ICC Technical Committee) in charge of “ICC Referee Panel Selection”? I thought his role was more to do with the rules of the game — “disabled javelin throwers”, etc. I am not sure his committee appoints the referees. Clarification on this would be useful.

    — Mohan

  10. ICC will be soft on most issues; since ICC does not want to offend any member country. Any host side will also be soft, since the host wants to be gracious and also do not want the tourists to walk out.

    When Mike Denness suspended Sachin, (for wrong/biased reasons) technically SA should not have agreed to an un-official test with India. That set a precedent for other countries.

    I think Darrel Hair suspension was also to placate Pakistan.

  11. sampath kumar

    Mohan,
    I haven’t seriously looked at different committees of ICC in detail–but I do know that gaveskar, Holding etc have positions of influence. One referee in particular seems to be appointed for a particular country more often and that country players do get lenience–he is often referred to as a Honorary citizen of that country!!!!!! keep guessing!!!!
    Sub continental countries do have more clout now than 10 or 15 years ago because of India’s TV coverage and income from that part of that world.
    It was a farce when Ranatunga stopped a game in Australia after his bowler was no balled–his Manager was talking on the mobile, on the field to Sri lankan authorities re walk out etc–ICC should have then and there itself allowed the umpires to eject the official and ban him for life, if ranatunga refused to continue the game, then the Umpires would have and should have awarded the game to the opposition and ranatunga and Sri lanka penalised by ICC–it didn’t happen and from therre on, ONLY MONEY HAS TALKED–
    Re my brother D Hair–all umpires fololw and worship a special kind of brotherhood–no funny handshakes!!!!! It is a tragedy he has been banned from umpiring in the World cup despite being in the top four umpires for the past four years– OF COURSE, HE MADE A WRONG CALL AT THE WRONG TIME RE SUING ICC FOR COMPENSATION –BUT ICC LEFT HIM HIGH AND DRY FOR ITS OWN BENEFITS OF T V MONEY FROM THE SUB CONTINENT Umpire Doctrove who also officiated in THAT game is umpiring at the World cup–why?—the stadiums would be burnt or the hotels would be bombed or somehow the matches couldn’t be held in the West Indies—Goonda rule chaltha hai!!!! or Apartheid in reserve with non-white majority now at ICC!!!!!!

    sampath

    Sampath

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