Deadlocked Australia v India (2007-2008) :: Where does it all go now?


Will Anil Kumble, a proud, fiercely competitive and honest cricketer — his record speaks for himself — want to shake hands with an opposing Captain who, he feels, has played the game wrongly in a desperate bid to win? Is there a point, then, of playing on in Perth and Adelaide?

RIP :: Cricket as we know it…

The Australia v India tour is a mess right now. The players are stuck in their hotel in Sydney. Ironically, they cancelled a tour to the Bradman Museum in Bowral, enroute Canberra and stayed in their Sydney Hotel instead. The great Don may be turning in his grave in anguish at the sorry state of the game here in Australia. The game, as we know it, is in the Intensive Care Unit of an unknown hospital somewhere.

Who is to blame for this sorry mess? The Indian team alone? The ICC? Cricket Australia? Harbhajan Singh? Anil Kumble? Ricky Ponting? Mike Proctor? Umpires Benson and Bucknor? I believe each of these actors in this sordid play have to stand up and take some responsibility.

My feeling, though, is that if Proctor had not banned Harbhajan Singh — or if he had imposed a suspended sentence due to lack of complete and irrefutable evidence — things would not have come to this. Then again, if Ricky Ponting had not “dobbed in” — let us remember, when Australia were in danger of the game running away from them — things would not have come to this.

The Indians would have cried on a bit about the umpiring and disappeared to the Bradman Museum and then, Canberra.

But then, Ricky Ponting, we are told, had to report Harbhajan Singh. And Mike Proctor had to do his duties as Match Referee.

Within the Indian player group there is much anger and disappointment.

India, with the backing of its financial muscle power (over 70% of the games’ revenues come from India) has dug its heels and stuck to its guns, despite the danger of a $2.3m fine for pulling out midway from a tour for reasons other than security-risk. Cricket Australia indicated that the tour was certainly on, with CEO James Sutherland suggesting (as one would to one’s angry child, perhaps) that once Anil Kumble was a bit more sober, everything would be ok! His view was that Anil Kumble’s “outburst” was understandable for he had just lost a game and tensions were running high. Strong empathy there. Well done. Patronising perhaps? No way.

The BCCI has held emergency meetings and postured angrily and at times, with some confusion. Former Indian players were angry and scathing in their views over the goings-on. This had now become an issue of national pride; not just one man’s 3-Test ban.

How appropriate that the Test series itself is called the 3 Test Series!

Arun Jaitley, the BCCI’s lawyer as well as a BCCI Senior Vice President, has already filed an appeal against the Harbhajan Singh ban.

The BCCI has taken this on as an insult, not merely to the player in question, but to Indians as a whole around the globe. This issue has been politicised and yet again in cricket, a sense of proportion has been lost. In a terse and angry statement, the BCCI said, “The Indian board realises 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”.

I think Mike Proctor has acted in a manner that, in my opinion, has not been either consistent or great for the game.

He was incorrect, in my view, for not banning Yuvraj Singh for dissent after the 1st Test, for if he had banned Yuvraj Singh, it would have provided India with a better batsman in the Sydney Test!

But jokes apart, Mike Proctor has not, in my view, been entirely consistent.

How he could let Ricky Ponting get away with three acts of misdemeanour in the Sydney Test is way beyond me: (a) Ponting’s dissent on being given out in the 1st Innings of the SCG Test, (b) The Australian teams’ appalling over rate in the Indian second Innings, (c) Claiming a catch off M. S. Dhoni when he must have known that he had grounded the catch.

For (c) above I provide below a picture that reader H. L. Cadambi refers to in the comments of an earlier posting. [Thanks Cad]

I also refer the reader to an articulate posting by Prem Panicker, a well-known and well-respected journalist for Rediff.com.

pontng-grounded-catch.jpg

Ponting must have known that he grounded the catch. Look at direction his eyes are appearing to look at in the picture!

Now, a cricketer has been banned in the past for claiming a catch when it was not out. Pakistan player, Rashid Latif was banned for five matches for claiming a “grounded” catch in a Test against Bangladesh.

The Match Referee in that precedent? Mike Proctor. Hello! Hello!

And what has Mike Proctor done in this game? He banned Harbhajan Singh. He hasn’t even questioned the integrity of Ricky Ponting. If Ricky Ponting could claim the catch against M. S. Dhoni, should he have the power to be a 4th umpire in the catch against Sourav Ganguly that Michael Clarke claimed to take cleanly?

I personally do not think so.

For a start, on the basis of this evidence, I feel that the pre-tour agreement on claiming catches between Anil Kumble and Ricky Ponting will be thrown out of the window. If the tour does go ahead, I do not believe the Indian team will (or indeed, should) have any faith in the integrity of the Australian captain or the Australian team.

If the tour goes on, in my view, all catches have to be referred to the 3rd umpire.

The hypothesis at play here is that in times of extreme duress, distress and anguish, integrity is the first thing that suffers in Australian cricket.

The backdrop against which this observation is made is important here.

Ricky Ponting was desperate to prove that the timing of his declaration was apt. A fact that made him interrupt Channel-9 interviews (at the end of the days’ play) with other players to scream out against Tony Greig’s criticism of the timing of the declaration. Adam Gilchrist was similarly under the pump too. He too was reported to have interrupted interviews to scream out (perhaps in jubiliation and perhaps in relief) at Tony Greig’s criticism of the declaration-timing. The criticism meant a lot to this team. Pontings’ timing was based on shutting India out first, winning next. He had achieved the former. He wanted the latter desperately. Evidence, albeit ancedotal, supports that. It was obvious that the win meant so much to Ricky Ponting. Apart from having things to prove to Tony Greig and the rest of the commentary team, and despite his public denials, the consecutive-win record would have meant much to this proud and fiesty cricketer.

Would he do anything he could to snatch that victory? Make up your own minds. But here was a captain that was, in my view, very very desperate to win… at any cost too, perhaps.

When questioned repeatedly on this facet of his (perhaps desperate) attempts ot win at all costs, Ricky Ponting reacted angrily and testily to G. Rajaraman, the Outlook India correspondent, who records the events in his blog. The question clearly rankled Ponting.

Only one team played in the spirit of the game“, said Anil Kumble at the conclusion of the game. You wonder why?

In a scathing attack, Peter Roebuck certainly thinks that Ricky Ponting brought the game into disrepute and should be stood down as captain of the Australian team.

But then Australians will point to the fact that Anil Kumble may have meant that it was perhaps Australia that was the one team that had played in the spirit of the game — and not Kumble’s own team. After all, Harbhajan Singh was the only one to be slapped on his wrists at the end of the game! History would perhaps record Anil Kumble’s comments as a salutation to Australia’s immense sportsmanship?

But I seriously wonder if Mike Proctor had enough evidence to ban Harbhajan Singh for 3 games? Or was this yet another gaffe from the Match Referee, who did not pull up Ricky Ponting as he had, Rashid Latif? Only time will tell. The lawyers will make money out of this.

However, history will record that, in a game where people from the Indian sub-continent and black South Africans have withstood decades of discrimination and villification, an Indian is the first to be booked for racism under the ICC’s new code. There is a strange irony to this. I have always maintained that, despite the baggage of past history (and provocation), if anyone could be proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, they should do the time. So, time will tell if Harbhajan Singh was a victim or indeed, the person that dished out an abuse.

I do believe that this is a horrible deadlock; one from which either party will find it hard to back down from.

The ICC has indicated that it will not allow Steve Bucknor to be stood down in the Perth Test. They have their backs up and will not let one of their own suffer an inglorious exit from the game. And fair enough, in my view. After all, the ICC has already been through a nightmare scenario once after the Darryl Hair issue! They would not want yet another umpire to go the same way! In all probability, Perth will be Bucknor’s last Test match. If he does not retire, he must be asked to do so. So, whether the Indians like it or not, I feel that Bucknor will officiate in Perth.

Cricket Australia and Ricky Ponting have their backs up, claiming that they have done nothing wrong and, if anything, it is the Indians who are to blame for all of this mess. Having said that, Cricket Australia has imposed a gag order on Andrew Symonds. Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has to come to terms with that fact that almost every Poll in the land has delivered bad news for the national cricket team; almost all of them have indicated that Australian cricketers are bad sportsmen (an example, here).

Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar has come out openly to state, “Harbhajan is innocent. I assure you of this.

So, is Proctor saying that Sachin Tendulkar is a cheat?

I feel that cricket has to go on, but I do believe that this entire episode has tarred relations — perhaps beyond repair — between these two cricket nations; each with a proud history. I somehow cannot see Ricky Ponting and Anil Kumble shake hands prior to the Perth Test. Sources close to the team say that Anil Kumble, a proud, fiercely competitive and honest crickter — his record speaks for himself — will not shake hands with a cricketer who, he feels, has played the game wrongly in a desperate bid to win.

If the Indians play on, in this tour, I doubt it will be because they want to play the game; it would be because they were forced to and not because they want to. Is this good for the game? For a bunch of XI players to rock up to Perth and Adelaide and for the game to be over in a day or two?

Who is to blame for all of this sadness?

Have your say…

— Mohan

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48 responses to “Deadlocked Australia v India (2007-2008) :: Where does it all go now?

  1. Apart from Peter Roebuck’s article (on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – http://www.fairfaxphotos.com/pages/) calling for the sacking of zippy Ricky, the Herald has has also rewritten a scathing editorial on the spirit of Australian cricket –
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/editorial/victory-without-honour-walk-the-walk-watch-the-talk/2008/01/07/1199554568809.html

  2. Very Well Written Mohan!!!
    When Javed Miandad hit Sharma for a six of the last ball of the match, there was this feeling of disappointment that was hard to let go for many many years. But in all those years, rivalry between pakistan and india was intensely fierce, extermely entertaining, and much anticipated by the cricketing world. Because these games brought out the best from the most unpredictable and dangerous teams in world cricket. I was mentioning to a friend the other day that the current India Aussie rivalry in cricket is getting close to that. But that was before the Sydney test, and I would like to quietly withdraw my statements regarding those parallels I drew. I think this rivalry has become very personal and the damage done. I dont think I can watch this australian team with even an iota of admiration anymore. They can pile up 17 -18- 20-25 victories for all I care. There is an element of suspicion and vendetta about the following aussie players in the camp – Hayden, Gilchrist, Clarke, Ponting and Symonds. I still reserve my opinion about the other players as I feel that they are not yet moulded into this term they call as “Aussie Aggression”. This national rhetoric and jingoism about – “we play our cricket hard and fair” has putrified and compels any intersted fan to throw up. This trend is a path to destruction.
    From the Indian standpoint, I would hope and pray that Bhajji learns some valuable lessons from this unpleasant episode. I am not judging anything about the insinuations as I really do not know what the truth is. My selfishness is focussed on ensuring that a talented cricketer as him has many responsibilities towards India and needs to own up to it and not let his colorful and controversial side ruin it. Just as he has taken the responsibility of his family’s future after his father’s death, he needs to prepare himself to play the bigger role as the lead spinner of India, when Kumble will no longer be serving. And finally, I am very proud of the current Indian team, for being great ambassadors of the game and demonstrating a sense of unity and purpose that has made us all proud. Indian cricket is progressing in the right direction.

  3. Mohan,

    Brilliantly summarized. You have the last word…

  4. pack up your bags and go home you silly indi bobs. you are a third world country who cannot look after your own people. india thinks the world owes it a living. news flash—– have a look at the way you run you contry and treat women, for god sake– go back fron whatever hole you crawelled from.

  5. william:

    India had a woman Prime Minister before much of the world realised that a woman could vote!

    william, if you can’t contribute to a healthy debate, just don’t. Check the history books. And while you are at it, I suggest that you learn how to spell too.

    It is views like these from william, as well as the carry-on of the Australian cricket team that make me want to change my Australian passport every now and then. India were robbed. Cricket was robbed.

    ———–

    Ps: After seeing the carry-on of the Australian cricket team when no one had the decency to acknowledge a gallant warrior’s defeat — leave along shake Anil Kumble’s hand — I wonder how (just how?) Andrew Symonds could comment about victory celebrations in India! I sob in the sheer pain of it all. Have done so since Sunday.

  6. Eloquently written and the case really makes itself. It is a sad day for cricket, my point is really quite simplistic.

    Unless the following two occur:
    1. Complete exoneration of Bhajji, having Symonds, Ponting, Clarke and Hayden state that something was said is really quite silly considering none of these players is to be trusted an iota. You can punish Bhajji if 25 odd cameras, mics, the two umps, Sachin Tendulkar didnt hear anything. Where is the evidence, if this ruling holds a very very dangerous precedent is being set. Once which has the potential to devolve into teams trying to target and remove opposition players on whatever whim.

    2. Bucknor and Benson being removed from the future matches in the series. I believe at this stage only Bucknor is scheduled for Perth. The decisions against India were to the tune of 7-8:1. That to me is a serious concern.

    I doubt either of the above will come to fruition and hence the tour should be called off. Can the Aussies afford to have India go home. The $2mn fine is chump change for the BCCI. However, the Oz team being declared not welcome has far more serious consequences for the Aussies.

    signing off … a disheartened cricket fan for whom this used to be the marquee series in world cricket over the last decade.

    sad sad day for cricket

  7. Ponting’s captiency is a real stupid thing, we have ever seen in the history of cricket. If he still continues as an international player, it will be a big shame to Australian team.

  8. >>>if anyone could be proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt – this isn’t a criminal matter. I would have thought that the test that Mike Proctor would more likely have to apply would be ‘on the balance of probabilities’. Beyond reasonable doubt is not used (in Australia at least) other than for criminal matters. Let’s have some informed reporting.

  9. Barry,

    Two points.

    We are talking about the ICC here and not Australian laws.

    Second, here is Mike Proctor’s statement post-ruling: “I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds’ race or ethnic origin.”

    I tried to see if he said, “balance of probability” as I thought he ought to have said. But alas! No.

    The lawyers will make money!

    The full report is here:
    http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/ci/content/current/story/329440.html

    Let us have some informed comments perhaps?

    — Mohan

  10. I am at a loss to understand your criticism of the Australian teams’ appalling over rate. India has been shocking over both tests in terms of the time taken. Secondly, there was clearly poor sportsmanship by the Indians in terms of delaying proceedings in the last innings, from RP Singh taking forever to come off the field to Sharma calling for gloves.

    I’m not excusing what the Australians did in terms of their celebrations, they should have applauded Kumble. However lets be fair about it.

    In terms of the umpiring, that’s hardly the Australian team’s fault and by a neutral count (the Guardian from memory) there were 12 umpiring errors, with 8 incurred against the Indians. Key decisions went against Australia in the 05 Ashes tour, most notably a series of laughable LBW decisions against Martyn at crucial times – but you didn’t the ACB considering cancelling the tour. Poor umpiring occurs, just accept it.

    In terms of the Singh incident, leaving aside whether he actually uttered the phrase, you can’t have the team manager in one breath say Singh didn’t say it and then say that in Indian culture calling someone a monkey is not significant.

    To me the key issue with Singh is that if he said it, he knew that it was considered racist in Asutralia. He had had a meeting with Ponting and Symonds after the OD matchs and agreed not to say it – that is the great concern.

    I think both teams behaviour was poor, let’s move on. The captains should meet, shake hands and play the Perth test.

    Let’s not forget the standing ovation given to Tendulkar after his first innings century by the SCG crowd, Sharma congratulating Symonds on his century after the umpiring error and Ponting calling Dravid (i think) back in the first innings when he probably could have got away with claiming the catch.

  11. Sean

    You have probably been listening to the Channel-9 comms too much!

    Prior to the last innings of SCG, India has been bowling in this series at an average over-rate of 4.3 mins per over. Australia, at 4.6 mins per over.

    See more at: https://i3j3cricket.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/over-rates-again/

    The over-rate of the Australians, bowling under the pump on day-3 to Laxman and Tendulkar was not just bad. It was “appalling”, in the words of Benaud, no less!

    I have nothing against the team manager saying, “Hey! He did not say it and by the way, in India, ‘monkey’ is a God and a non-offensive term”. He is essentially saying that there is a cultural difference at play. Fair enough.

    Your solution to this mess is far too simplistic, if I may say so. I don’t believe the Indian team will move on, when it knows that one of its players (Harbhajan Singh) has been called a racist and another (Sachin Tendulkar) a liar.

    To now ask for the captains to meet and shake hands and have a beer and talk about it all in a drunken haze, is quite romantic. It may perhaps play out it in a cute movie one day! Meanwhile, let us wake up and smell the roses.

    This is a shoody mess that started on day-3 when Australia was losing. It is a mess for which there ain’t no cute solution. The sooner everyone realises it the better…

    — Mohan

  12. Sean, the point that you are missing is this, Ponting appealed for a catch knowing full well that it was grounded and so did Michael Clarke. And before you start talking about the Clarke catch being inconclusive, I recommend you see the following:

    see the clip after 1:45

    The problem with the supposed over-reaction of Asian teams is borne out of the fact that subcontinental teams have faced the brunt of match referees wrath over the years. For instance, back in 2001 when Mike Denness suspended 6 Indian players, he same game saw Pollock’s over-appealing to the umpire but was not even fined for it. Actions on the cricket field that warranted warnings and fines for subcontinental teams have been generally ignored when displayed by South Africa or Australia. This is not something seen only in “white” referees, Clive Lloyd has also been guilty of the same.

    5 years back, a similar incident to Ponting’s and Clarke’s catches warranted a 5 ODI suspension for Rashid Latif and the referee in question was none other than our esteemed Mike Procter. Please read the details of that ruling below:

    http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/pakistan/content/story/133468.html

    Check out the videos, read this report and tell me why Ponting should be spared from the same punishment meted out to Latif. Also, why would you expect to believe the words of fieldsmen such as Clarke when it comes to what he heard or did not hear on the field with respect to Bhajji?

  13. You can’t argue that he didn’t say it, but if he did it’s not a big deal. It’s either one of the other.

    As for the Indian team not being able to move on because Sachin is called a liar. Doesn’t that mean that Sachin and Singh by extension are calling the 3 Australian players who claim to have heard the word liars?

    Faults lie on both sides, neither side should be precious about it.

    I see that you didn’t refute my criticisim of the time wasting the Indians did in the last session – does that mean you admit it happened?

  14. Sean

    Of course I did not refute the time-wasting. Everyone saw that. The glove thing was a cynical thing. But for Australians to cry that it is only the disrespectful foriegeners that do it is to ignore the appalling behaviour on day-3.

    And yes, if Harbhajan Singh is exonerated, that makes 3 Aussies as liars.

    See the mess that exists?

    No one can win. No one will win.

    Except the lawyers.

    And that was my point. Ponting erred by dobbing when he feared he was losing. Both teams erred by dragging the game on, whereas Pontings’ was, in my view, the most galling, when over 6 overs were lost on day-3. Ponting adopted the high-moral ground. Ponting claimed a catch where there was none — and should rightfully be banned for it, if Mike Proctor has the guts as well as consistency on his side. Harbhajan Singh is reported to have racially abused. The BCCI dug its heels. Mike Proctor did not realise the gravity of the situation and ruled “beyond reasonable doubt”. The BCCI took this as a reflection of national pride.

    Everyone has erred and hence the deadlock out of which there is no real solution except disarray.

    This is not doomsday painting. This is tragic and real. Hence my lead to this article: “RIP Cricket as we know it…”

    — Mohan

  15. I found this blog to be quite balanced and you make some valid points. Ponting is in real danger of tainting his cricketing legacy…

    However, finding parallels between the reporting of the Harbhajan incident and Pontings behaviour on the final day is really drawing a long bow.

    After the incident(s) in Mumbai you cant expect Ponting and Symonds not to report it, and in the images captured at the time Harbhajan looked very sheepish, much like a naughty boy who had been caught doing the wrong thing.

    The real story here is the BCCI’s complete overreation to the situation, as per usual.

  16. I need an expert on Indian cricket affairs to answer the most important question arising from the recent Test match. Are there shops in India at which you can purchase effigies for burning or do people just make their own?

  17. @Anthony: I erred previously when I said that the lawyers are the only ones that would make money out of this. Effigy-makers will make a packet too!

    @ Dave: Thanks for your comments. I have no problems with Ponting dealing with the issue. It is a serious one. However, in the absence of any evidence, what did he expect would happen? A chat with Anil Kumble would have been the Australian way to have handled this. I would look sheepish too if you ruffled me up and said “Why did you call me a monkey?” when I hadn’t. A sheepish look is circumstantial and would be thrown out in a court of law. If you are seen outside a bar, it doesn’t mean you are drunk. It could, but it is not a logical conclusion that one can jump to, IMVHO.

  18. @Dave

    BCCI’s over-reaction?! You gotta be kidding. This is a matter of national pride since Proctor has clearly over-ridden Sachin’s word in handing Harbhajan the ban. So he means that Indians are unfit to make statements worthy to be believed.

    BCCI’s reaction is understated since any other team woulda pulled out long ago…

    The hypocritical Aussies aren’t able to stomach Indians’ aggression after their being known for their timidness for so long. WAKE UP! We can play your ugly games too. And please tell Ponting to vacate that imagined moral high-ground of integrity. It stinks.

  19. And why oh why does Symonds have to report the bowler who dismissed his cap’n to the referee like a kindergarten kid would to the teacher?
    Symonds seems to be getting paranoid, or he is plainly lying. If he talks about crowd misbehaviour in India, need i remind anyone that crowds everywhere are the same? He should be strong enough mentally to overlook such things.
    In any case, i have a clear picture of the placard “Bus drivers Vs Tram conductors” being displayed during the Benson & Hedges series game in the ’80s played between India & Pakistan. Racism exists everywhere but ends at Australia.
    John Howard earned infamy when he called Muralitharan a ‘chucker’. When the Aus PM could do this, the entire Australian nation looks like you-know-what!
    By the way, wasn’t it the Saint Mc Grath who spat on Ramnaresh Sarwan and called Jayasuriya a “Black Monkey”?
    When you point a finger at someone, you’ll find four more of your own pointing at yourself.
    Aussies calling Harbhajan a racist is like Hitler calling the Jews evil! Puh-leese!

  20. Why Harbhajan Singh is targeted? Is it because Ponting is not able to score in this series? Is it because Bret Lee was hammered by him? If you destabilise bhaji through false allegations with racial slurs it would get worse not in India but only the image of Cricket Australia world wide. If Ponting is not able to see what wrong the Team Australia has committed when the whole world knows or has seen- he has become blind and he is unfit to be a player first and captain next. History is replete with racial comments only by Australian fans and never by the Indians. If Symonds has an iota of doubt let him check any tour of any country in India. It lies only in the mind of these people and not in the minds of Indian fans and Indian Players. If fans responses are being interpreted as racial and players commenting on the field as racial, the sledging for which Cricket Australia is famour for is wholly responsible for all this. The sporting public and the media should denounce any such attempt by the Australians to hide behind the remark that they play the game the hard way. It is not playing by Mr.Ponting & co, it is real cheating.

  21. This Indian team should go home they are nothing short of sookie mummies boys. Lose the test and then squeal like piglets about the spirit of the game ha ha ha. “Oh it’ s our honour you’ve wounded us – humbug!!
    And then they want an umpire removed cause one of their players (harbi the loser) got out of hand and on cue the ICC and that goose Malcom not so Speedy says;
    “Yep no probs we’ll do whatever you say”
    Speed should resign the Indians (trailing the super cricket team 2-0) and their fragile egos have now been been placed above the game – let them go home I say.
    Why not give them a 200 hundred run head start in Perth and they can pick the umpires, we’ll prepare the pitch just for them and they can call the toss with a double headed coin and when they field they can have the 1 bounce 1 hand rule – they’ll need all of these concessions!!
    I’m astounded the Indans are whinging about the spirit of the game when the practice of charging at the umpire while making an appeal was born on the sub continent – designed simply to intimidate – astounding!!
    Just to balance off my very subtle and barely recognisable vitriolic post – Symonds should have walked and that would have cleared up good amount of this crap.
    I can’t imagine someone getting to the top of their profession and then not playing the game with impeccable fairness. So what if Bucknor misses a snick – Symonds should have removed the presure from him and said “yeah well the ump missed it but noone else did so I’m off to the dressing room”
    Nonetheless the game should not be held to ransom by losers which the Indians clearly are.

  22. And if you Indian fans want to carry on squealing have read of this article sums up it up rather well I think!
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23025954-601,00.html

  23. I tend to agree with these comments from one article I read:

    “The Australians have been sledging and abusing players with little censure for years, so there will be some sympathy towards Harbhajan for standing up to them. But in a world where racial friction can cause the death and destruction now being seen in Kenya, its use on a sports field is unacceptable, regardless of the provocation.

    Almost as disagreeable is the indignation that seems to possess Indian cricket and its millions of supporters every time their team suffers a setback they don’t like – in this case Harbhajan’s ban and the loss of a Test riddled with umpiring errors against both sides.

    The subtext, given the Indian board’s objection to Procter, as well as the umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson, is that they are the victims of racism. Mind you, they could find a racist plot in a packet of jelly beans – and nearly did at Trent Bridge last year when someone sprinkled a few at the edge of the pitch.

    Racism was also the accusation Pakistan used to whip up fervour against umpire Darrell Hair after the forfeited Oval Test 18 months ago, and it is one Asian countries seem to reach for too often when umpiring decisions or disciplinary matters go against them.

    India have been here before, once threatening to cancel the final Test of their 2001-2 tour to South Africa. Then, the match referee was Mike Denness, a former England captain, who had imposed penalties on six Indian players for code-of-conduct breaches, including a one-Test ban on Virender Sehwag for excessive appealing.”

    I do think Symonds is genuinely offended by what he sees as comments about his dark skin, due to his West Indian heritage, and possibly could have ignored the remark, but it is racism, and I guarantee if an Australian had caused a person with dark skin (like most Indians for example), a monkey, their reaction would be a lot worse than that from Symonds.

    As for whining about Clarke not walking when obviously out, I do recall some Indian players doing the exact same thing in this test match.

    Both teams need to pull their heads in and get on with cricket, but to assume it is all the Australians fault is to ignore India’s petulant behaviour, deliberate slow over rate and Harbhajan Singh’s conviction for calling Symonds a monkey. A lot of people say it is the Aussie’s word against the Indians, which is true, but to say Symonds, Ponting, Hayden, and particularly Gilchrist are all colluding to make up a complaint is ridiculous, while on the other hand it is easy to see someone accused not wanting to admit what he has done.

    The offended tone exhibited by Harbhajan as though he is a saint who could never possibly do anything like this misses the point that in a tight, hard fought sporting contest, things do get said, even by saints, which they later regret. To assume these things should be ignored by others though is too much.

    I think he did call Symonds a monkey, was caught out and probably regretted what he’d said instantly. Whenever someone carries on in the way the Indian team, management and sporting public has, it means players are vindicated in lying about what they have said, because they know they are so revered that they are able to get away with it.

    I find in life, whenever someone uses the defence “How dare you………to question me?”
    with an injured, offended tone, they have usually committed the offence which they are denying occurred.

  24. Tex:

    So what are you saying here? Are you saying Ricky Ponting is guilty of NOT playing cricket in the right spirit of the game? For when he was asked that question, he replied testily, “How dare you…..to question me?”

    Indeed, he may have used almost those very words!

    Await your response with bated breath.

  25. I’m sorry, but enough.

    I am a neutral observer – in fact, no I’m not…I’m a kiwi, I love seeing the Aussies do badly. But, please, enough.

    May I respectfully make a couple of quick points from the view of a ‘neutral’ observer. Firstly, I was disappointed with Australia’s display after winning – it seemed to cross the line from joy to ‘rubbing it in’ (similar to the World Twnty20 semi), and Michael Clarke staying at the crease in the second innings was terrible (although a young man failing in such a manner would simply wish it hadn’t happened – as I recall, happened on the last ball of the test). But I do think the furore over the Ponting catch is simply ridiculous. I hate seeing Ponting squeeze the life out of opponents, but while he is uber-competitive he is no cheat. It has taken me several readings of the MCC rules to see that he could be seen to have not taken the catch – but I’m an experienced captain at a decent level, and even I it was a catch. When you take the ball like that, you’re full of adrenilin…the last thing going through your mind is “did I have control of my motion”. And it’s cheap to use a public pedestal to say otherwise.

    Secondly, bad umpiring happens. If I recall correctly, Australia could claim to have lost the Ashes in 2005 because Billy Bowden incorrectly gave Michael Kasporwhatever out caught behind only several runs short of victory in the second (or perhaps third) test. Australia (and this hurts to say) took that result and the series defeat like gentlemen and reformed themselves into a better side. I respect that internal questioning and not seeking to blame everyone else – other countries could learn from that. I am immensely proud of NZ rugby for the way it handled their world cup defeat. I suspect only NZ rugby fans can feel on par to Indian cricket fans after a defeat. And while some in the NZ media half-heartedly pointed towards some umpiring issues, they were quickly shushed (and rightly so, what use was it).

    Thirdly, I am sad to see such a long-time servant of the game, Steve Bucknor, humiliated in such a way. He had a very bad test, and yes it probably cost India a draw. But cricket is a game. He must be going through hell (and people have succumbed to less). His family must be going through hell. Is a sports result worth such vindictive and cruel abuse?

    Fourthly, there will be a lot of eye rolling at this latest attempt by the BCCI to blackmail the ICC or a national cricket body. The result will be deeper distrust and this is detrimental to the game.

    Fifthly, (and thank you to those who have hung on this long) I have had the absolute pleasure to travel in a sporting and non-sporting capacity through the sub-continent. I am in love with the region and its wonderful people. But I’m afraid I think that images of effigies being burnt, threats being issued and racism existing in the stands during a recent Australian tour (it was racism…I’m sorry, but I can’t believe those who argue otherwise even believe what they are saying) reflect very poorly.

    Finally, I want to emphasise this point. Is India’s media (and certainly elements of Australia’s) partly to blame? I was distressed to see such inflammatory comments as those issued by Mr Kumble (a man who I respect, but feel succumbed to pressure on this occasion) at the press conference be applauded by those who are meant to be fair and balanced observers. I suspect a Kiwi journalist questioning the Indian captain in such a manner in Delhi would be shouted down – there is such a thing as respectfully disagreeing.

    Which is what I do here. I’m sorry, but I think the Indian cricket establishment (team and board) are not without blame. And it doesn’t befit such a wonderful country or its magnificent citizens.

  26. Sorry, I just reread your article – I’m not sure how that photo helps the cause. You can’t see the eyes (which, if I recall from the times i’ve dived for a catch, are likely to be closed).

    Why must it always come down to such personal abuse?

    Anyway, I realise I’m probably not amongst likemindeds, so enjoy the rest of the series (and I really do mean that) – and great website.

  27. Srikanth Mangalam

    Mr. McGarry,

    I tried hard to see your point of view. You are speculating on your rationale as much as many others for or against on Ricky Ponting’s integrity. A simple, “I am not sure” may have been the best thing to say than claim with such confidence that you took it. I have been trying to collect evidence from the past on Ponting’s integrity record (not too good, I am afraid). Well, let’s just leave it at that.

    Your sympathy for Bucknor is what dumbfounded me. Mohan, on this blog, has gone at length to present an unsettling history of poor decision making on Bucknor’s past. It may not be intentional on his part, he may very well have a hearing/vision problem, who knows? It is hard to believe that it is mere coincidence that the victims of his decision making have been the Indians or folks from the subcontinent.

    I personally thought Kumble was absolutely dignified yet terse in his comments. The situation thoroughly deserved a comment such as what he gave, it was in no way inflammatory. Again, how you define inflammatory is in your head..

    I have heard enough of this nonsense of western citizens camouflaging their dislike for all things Indian by claiming that they have visited India several times (or have ordered chicken curry from their next door restaurant and that even their children enjoy spicy stuff nonsense). The clown, Peter Lalor, comes to mind. So, please don’t give us that crap. Make your point straight!!!

    Oh! and by the way, not too long ago, the standard of umpiring in New Zealand was so biased that it was almost considered a joke to the extent that Indians never considered a series in New Zealand with any degree of importance.

    Yes, India and Indians are not perfect, in fact we have had problems surrounding prejudice for a while but the country with such diversity still survives and is stronger than ever because the majority of people look beyond such petty thoughts. It is infuriating to me when I hear folks from western countries with officially documented records of destroying civilizations of native/aborginal people advising Indians on what is racist and what is not? I digress from the topic of cricket but could not restrain from posting my thoughts.

  28. Srikanth Mangalam

    Just to avoid controversy, I used the word “terse” regarding Kumble comments in the context of it being concise yet making a strong statement. So, don’t get ideas folks…

  29. Pingback: In a perfect World! « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

  30. Mr Mangalam

    Thank you for your response. It seems we will not be able to agree. I regret that you feel the need to label NZ as cheaters as well. I also regret your decision to deride Mr Bucknor in such a fashion, but it is your choice .

    On Mr Kumble – let me restate more clearly. The gentlemanhad just been involved in a brave rear-guard action. He had been at the crease for several hours, at the end of two long, hard weeks of cricket. He had an impending hearing for one of his team hanging over his head. And then, when he looked like he had done enough for a draw, he saw it all evaporate in no time. Then he had to watch the Aussies celebrate like mad-men over a series they had just clinched. Finally, crestfallen at such a turn of events he is forced to front the media who are certainly going to ask a number of leading questions. Surely you aren’t suggestion that this is an environment for lucid thoughts and eloquent dialogue? I deeply respect Mr Kumble. But he made an agreement with Mr Ponting over catches before the series, which I believe was upheld by both men (please, let’s not get into a debate over the Ponting catch – quite simply, we aren’t sure…that is the terrible truth about 2 dimensional film). Mr Kumble is also a rather avid appealer (including off one cover drive which went for two) – does that constitute poor sportsmanship. Certainly not. He plays hard, but fair.

    Can I ask what else I am supposed to say? I do like India. I have visited and spent much of the last two decades there. I use that as a background reference, for I am sure you would be equally displeased to hear such opinions from people who have never visited India. It serves no useful purpose to condemn all those who don’t agree.

    May I leave with one final comment – for many decades Western teams complained about touring the sub-continent, but it was the Australian teams who gave them their biggest breaks (Australia welcoming the Indian tour post-war, Don Bradman threatened to sack any Australian who wouldn’t tour in the 1950s, NZ and Australia supporting Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to become test playing nations, Steve Waugh encouraging his teams to embrace the tours etc). I personally think Australia and India (and New Zealand) have much more to cherish in the cricketing relationship than to admonish. However, vitriol such as that above only works to dampen these relations. But, and this is the true kicker, it also dampens your ability to enjoy cricket. To watch sport for revenge or spite should be the domain of English soccer hooligans.

    As for Bucknor’s record – well I’m sure he’s far from perfect. But any umpire who has been around for that long will develop a rapsheet of mistakes. I should note that Mr Bowden is not liked by the Australians, but I doubt they’ll make any demands of the ICC.

    I’m sorry if I angered you with my comments before, that was certainly not my intention…I only wished to put things in perspective.

    Hopefully we can all enjoy the remainder of the series.

    P.S. BTW – I’m Maori…I’m not really sure you realise how insensitive your comments were, so I will take them as support. But I’m afraid you don’t seem to understand NZ cultural hostiry very well.

    BTW – I hope you all caught some of the NZ v Bangladesh game! Bangladesh are really starting to make some big strides.

  31. I apologise, I seem to have had more than one final comment!

    I do seem to ramble.

  32. @ John McGarry

    Very sensible points that were well-made. I personally thank you for taking the time.

    I agree with a lot of things you have said and disagree with a few. In this debate that has saddened and pained me, a cricket romantic and tragic, opinions are so varied and vast that it is impossible to wholeheartedly agree with anyone on all things! So be it.

    However, to suggest that Anil Kumble said what he did as a result of a knee-jerk, heat-of-the-moment, emotion-filled moment, is to simplify things a bit too much. To say that it was because his team had lost is to not understand what the context of it all was.

    I don’t know if you saw Anil Kumble’s interview. I did. He appears like a man totally aware of what he was saying. His words were measued and well-thought out.

    I believe that a few things pointed to Anil Kumble’s well-thought out and measured statement.

    His pre-tour agreement with Ricky Ponting was torn in shreds by a opposing captian that was desperate to win. A gentlemans’ word was breached by a win-at-all-costs thug (to colour his views to an extreme).

    He saw boorish behaviour, reserved for Saturday night brawls and nightclubs.

    He stood around for minutes, waiting for his hand to be shaken or for someone to reach out to his extended hand. He saw the entire Australian team — including Symonds who had preached from a moral high-ground, about appropriate forms of celebration — not even acknowledging that a vanquished and valiant warrior stood disconsolate in defeat, but yet gracious enough to acknowledge that his opponents had played well and deserved to win.

    It now transpires that after day-3, Anil Kumble rang Ponting to request him to not proceed with the official complaint and that he was willing to sit down with Ponting to thrash things through on the racism case. A furious Ponting was adamant — and was well within his rights to do so, by the way, in my opinion. Reason was lost though! Perspective was lost though (let us not forget that Australia was on the backfoot then — a correlation that is TOO cute to ignore). Was ANY other end-result possible through a sans-witness, sans-proof complaint? Was a mess not the ONLY possible result? Perhaps that is what Anil Kumble tried to appeal to. We will never know.

    So, a few things confluenced to get Anil Kumble to utter the measured and confident words he uttered. He is aware of the historical perspective of the words. He is a man that knows his place in the world.

    So, it wasn’t the loss that rankled. After all, the Indian team that can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field, can’t throw is so used to losing!

    This wasn’t the first time a match — even a close match — had been lost.

    So, to trivialise the weight of the words that Anil Kumble, a well-educated man no less, uttered to (a) post-match-emotion or (b) to the after-effect of the loss is to (i) humiliate, (ii) patronise, (iii) not understand.

    I hope you see where I am coming from…

    [Still hugely pained by all of this.. and PLEASE do not trivialise the pain by saying it is beacause of the loss. I, like the team I support, am used to being on the losing side].

    — Mohan

  33. Srikanth Mangalam

    Mr. McGarry,

    I started to write a long rejoinder to your response but felt I was digressing too much. Here is the gist of some of my points to ponder:

    1. Did you take up issue with Kumble’s appealing or Kumble press statement? If it had anything to do with his press statement (which was you initially took up issue with, then changed your mind), I suggest you read about Ponting’s treatment of an Indian journalist. Kumble was dignified, Ponting was arrogant and childish.

    2. No too long ago, an India-Australia series was a rarity. Is it mere coincidence that India’s financial clout has anything to do with an increase in the frequency or is it that the relationship between the two countries has for some strange reason blossomed?.

    If you read my earlier response, you would have realized that I did not label NZ as cheaters, I merely commented on their standard of umpiring not too long ago. Again, you may choose to disagree.

    Finally Sir, I am happy to hear that you are Maori and I most certainly do not claim to be a historian on matters down under, but having lived for considerable amounts of time in the western world, I have learned a bit about about native culture and how western society has marginalized natives and first nations in the past. I also know that India is a complex society and its strength, despite the diversity, lies in its ability to be largely a tolerant society. It is irritating to hear people extrapolate that the behavior of an insignificant minority as a reflection of Indian society . Anyways, as I said, I digress.

    Best wishes to you, no offence meant and taken.

  34. Mohan

    I certainly won’t trivialise your comments, and I thank you for not only your measured presentation but also your elaboration of some of the points. To be honest, it seems the result has become a side issue (a shame for such a close test).

    I think we are not far apart on this issue, if at all. I wish to emphasise my respect for Mr Kumble (although I am not insinuating that your are suggesting I have otherwise). But I can only imagine his hurt at the time – he really did seem pained. In fact, he may well have thought exactly what he said (I simply do not know), but I’m sure that given a little more time to take stock he may well have chosen to not raise the issue because I am certain he understood how deeply the words would resonate in the cricket world – he was basically calling the Australian team, each and every single member, cheats – this is simply not true. Perhaps I am completely wrong, but I hope I am not. Cricket tours overseas are draining experiences and they at times wear away at people, and it is certainly no criticism if Mr Kumble succumbed to this pressure (indeed, it is very human).

    I do feel like I may seem like I’m being critical of the Indian side alone. This is certainly not my view.

    I believe both sides are scrabbling to claim a moral high ground that may not be that high. Australia seemed incensed at the way the Indian side celebrate after the Twnety20 semi-finals, and the treatment dished out to Mr Symonds. But two wrongs simply do not make a right. They were poorly behaved at times during the test, but well behaved at other times. The Ponting catch is debatable, but Mr Clark should certainly have walked, and their celebrations were beyond the pale.

    But, if Mr H. Singh did speak in the manner he is alleged to have, then that is unacceptable. I realise there are cultural differences, but the hurt caused by that term was made painfully clear last year. In a similar vein, Mr Hogg’s comments are also inappropriate (and I certainly hope he will never use the phrase in such a way again – let’s call this his opportunity to learn from his mistake). This is the problem of cultural ignorance, but one of the joys of cricket – that we get to bridge these cultural gaps.

    It is a shame that this test won’t be remembered for several moments of brilliant sportsmanship. Firstly, the genuinely warm reception for Mr Tendulkar’s brilliant ton (as well as Mr Laxman’s), the acknowledgement of no catch by Mr Ponting (on what actually seemed like a catch on television replays – proving how fraut that system is), and the fine display of young Mr Sharma, who at 19 went and offered his hand (sadly the only player on the field to do so) at the conclusion of Mr Symonds knock – he is a class act, and I certainly hope to see much more of him.

    BTW – some in the NZ and Australian media are currently reporting that Mr Tendulkar claims that he can guarantee Mr H. Singh never used the alleged phrase. This is frivolous reporting – jumping at rumour. There is no way Mr Tendulkar could have heard everything said on the field, and I am certainly inclined to disregard any chance that such a fine sportsman as Mr Tnedulkar (in every sense of the word) would make such comments.

    Warmest regards to your and your readers

    P.S. I disagree strong with you on one point – India most certainly can bat, bowl and field! They are the second best side in the world in my humble opinion.

  35. Mr Mangalam

    Thank you for your response, and I apologise for my lack of clarity. I raised both issues on Mr Kumble separately, and don’t wish to bore anyone by repeating myself too much – so to state simply, Firstly, I think Mr kumble may have been a little put of by the situation when he spoke to the media. Secondly, I have no problem with his appealing (but find it a little hypocritical for some to criticise the Australians all having some rather lavish appeals when every other team does the same thing, NZ included).

    As for Mr Ponting’s response to the journalist – well that was definitely ugly both ways. I think it’s rather incendiary for a journalist to basically claim someone is a cheat, but I think Mr Ponting could have handled the matter in a much better fashion (but ignoring the question or simply stating that he still believes he caught it). I don’t think this was journalism’s finest hour (particulry after several members of the press had been behaving like cheerl leaders throughout the conference).

    I’m afraid I can’t really understand the angle you are pushing on the financial issue. I thought series were reasonably regular. Australia seems to earn its money from playing England, the West Indies and South Africa at home. There is a reason the test series is only 4 matches, while the Ashes is 5. I’m sorry, but I think logic would suggest India has more to gain than Australia (I am not aware that Australia receives a percentage of the Indian television rights revenue). Oh, and teams are now forced to regularly play each other.

    But I think the real reason that cricket between India and Australia is getting quite exciting is the fact that it is two great teams playing some excellent, close series (a reasonably rare event in recent cricket history). I’m afraid I have to strongly disagree with your assertion that it’s all about money and Australian subterfuge.

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to digress about cultural exploitations in this forum – in my experience, every single country has its historical embarrassments. I, for example, have Scottish ancestors who make it impossible for me to love the English  And I agree that the acts of a few can misrepresent the majority – but they still leave an impression.

    Finally sir, I wish to emphasise this. We may disagree, but I in no way disrespect your opinion. I wish you all the best.

    John

  36. John McGarry,

    I saw the image of VVS Laxman congratulating Symonds when returning to pavillion.

    I guess, Ponting was so frustrated that they couldnt repeat their first innings domination in this match (which they badly wanted to win to get the record) and that frustration led to making the complaint. In Mohan’s words, Ponting and co were losing on day 3.

    Mohan,

    “It now transpires that after day-3, Anil Kumble rang Ponting to request him to not proceed with the official complaint and that he was willing to sit down with Ponting to thrash things through on the racism case.”

    – Surprising. Really??? did Kumble requested??

  37. spero kartanos

    .australia is the best team in the world.
    indian you too can be arrogant if you ever become the best… the problem is you will never be the best..so keep complaining …
    seems lots of short memmories around i remember the west indians when they were the best……does any body else remmember????

  38. It is a sad irony that in a debate that ultimately centres around the idea that the umpire’s word is final there has not been a little more respect for the finding that was made by Mike Proctor. I can only assume that each of the people who have so vehemently attacked Mr Proctor was either present in the middle of the SCG last Friday afternoon or attended the hearing in front of Mr Proctor on Sunday evening. Anybody with half a brain will appreciate that in many disciplinary hearings there will be disputed accounts as to what has occurred. If there is a conflict of evidence it is the job of the person hearing the charge to form a view as the veracity of the evidence given by witnesses. Ultimately, one person’s evidence must be preferred to another’s in such a case. As I understand it, Andrew Symonds presented one version of events and Harbajan Singh presented another different version. Evidence was also provided by other players (Australian and Indian). A finding one way or another was always going to leave Symonds or Harbajan in a difficult position. Much like a jury will form a view in a criminal trial, the adjudicator’s view will be based not only on the direct oral evidence provided but also on other factors such as the demeanor of the witnesses. As neither the writer of this blog (who is bold enough nevertheless to “seriously wonder if Mike Proctor had enough evidence”) or any of the readers (including me) know what evidence was provided at the hearing and will not be aware how the evidence was provided, I suggest that none of us is in any position to make any assessment of the strength or weakness of the case against the Indian player. The resolution of the charge is a matter best left to the person entrusted with hearing the appeal that has been instigated. Mr Singh and the BCCI have every right to appeal Mr Proctor’s decision. The fact that the BCCI has sought to bring further undue pressure on the ICC in relation to the matter (with threats of cancelling the current tour) reflects poorly on it. I will leave others to form a view as to the general conduct of a nation that seems hell bent on setting things on fire every time something goes against it.

  39. @Anthony

    What I’d like to see is that “natural justice is served”. A your-word-against-mine is a dangerous and slippery slope. If there is evidence, I hope Mike Proctor is willing to subject that to scrutiny — as the AFL does in all of its hearings. “Beyond reasonable doubt” is a huge call to make. Let us wait and see what the appeals process leads us.

    And by the way, this issue is also not without precedent. Trevor Chesterfield talks of a complaint that Dwayne Bravo once made against Graeme Smith for having uttered an epithet in Bravo’s direction. There was no evidence. In a similar his-word-against-his type of case, the match referee had no option but to throw the charge out.

    — Mohan

  40. I think everyone wants to see natural justice. But isn’t the point simply this – without knowing what occurred at the hearing it is purely speculation to suggest that Harbajan has not received the benefit of natural justice. If the person appointed to hear the appeal finds that Harbajan was denied natural justice then Mike Proctor (or perhaps more properly the ICC which designed the hearing process) will rightly be criticised. But let’s wait until the appeal is determined. What is disturbing is the comments made by the vice-president of the BCCI that “we will wait to see what the outcome of Harbhajan’s appeal is and we will make a decision from there” and “the controversy continues until Harbhajan’s name is cleared”. At what point is the BCCI going to respect the disciplinary process? Apparently, only when it produces the result the BCCI wants. There’s the slippery slope.

  41. @Anthony

    Yep! I certainly agree with you there. BCCI appears to be holding a gun to both its foot as well as to the ICC’s head. But then I don’t think anyone has ever credited the BCCI with exemplary organisation skills. They continue to teach us new ways of doing things badly.

  42. If ICC has stated that the logistics of bringing together the necessary individuals at once is the reason for the doubt whether the appeal process will complete be before the third Test in Perth next week, or even before the series finishes, ICC also is not any better than BCCI

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