Andrew Symonds, quite possibly the protector of Australian player body-parts, appeared to either be asleep at the wheel or far away from the action. Either that or he must have thought that Stuart Clark’s chest wasn’t as valuable as Brett Lee’s bottom! Lucky, for otherwise, we may have had a repeat of the Sydney explosion that rocked the cricketing world!
If Mike Proctor’s judgement withstands legal scrutiny, then human beings are bananas! (to borrow a most famous quote by Ian Hislop, then Editor of Private Eye)
First two days of the Adelaide Test match
At the end of day-2 of the final Test match of this pulsating Australia v India Test series, the game is evenly and interestingly poised.
In Perth, Anil Kumble withdrew the Brad Hogg allegation/complaint a day prior to the game and claimed moral high-ground where there appeared to be none for either team! He started well there and continued to do well by winning the toss and batting! India started the Perth game better than Australia even before a ball had been bowled!
So too in Adelaide. India started the game with a bold statement of intent! Harbhajan Singh, the off spinner, had been included at the expense of Wasim Jaffer, the opening batsman. India declared that they were going to press for a victory.
Irfan Pathan opened with Virender Sehwag. India began well, but lost two wickets in each of the opening two sessions of the Test match to be pegged back. Partnerships were hard to come by.
At Lunch India was 89-2 off 26.0 overs with Virender Sehwag on 56 and Sachin Tendulkar yet to score! Again, a session which would have been India’s had been ruined minutes prior to the close of session — for the umpteenth time in this series — by Rahul Dravid, who poked at a Mitchell Johnson angling delivery to be caught at slips by Ricky Ponting.
That gave an even Session By Session (SBS) Score of Australia, 0.5 :: India, 0.5
The second session saw Virender Sehwag depart reasonably early to a waft outside off stump. But he had done the hard work and justified his inclusion as opener. He started briskly and then played sensibly. Just when he was looking set though, he departed into an unusual shell and that, perhaps, was his downfall.
Sourav Ganguly can perhaps count himself unlucky as it appeared that the Brad Hogg ball that got him out LBW should not have been given. But then Asad Rauf has been consistent in giving these line-ball decisions in favour of the bowlers! Moreover, that ugly sweep was misplaced for that straight ball and perhaps Ganguly deserved to go!
India went to Tea on 187-4 off 53 overs. The scoring had been brisk but then India lost two more wickets! Sachin Tendulkar was batting beautifully on 50 off 77 balls. However, with one less batsman in the make up, things were starting to look a bit ominous for India. Partnerships were hard to come by too. Just when the batsmen were appearing to get on top, Australia pegged India back with a timely wicket. Brett Lee, in particular, was bowling sensationally on a track that offered little help.
My SBS Score reads Australia, 1.0 :: India, 1.0
And finally, India did get a century partnership in the post-Tea session. Sachin Tendulkar and V. V. S. Laxman had put on a 100 runs in 159 balls. Soon after, Tendulkar reached his own century off just 133 balls (9 fours and 3 sixes)! Laxman celebrated his half-century soon after. And just when things were starting to look good for India, Brett Lee produced a brute of a delivery that rose to Laxman’s face. The resulting “fend off” lobbed to Adam Gilchrist.
India ended the day on 309-5 off 86.0 overs. Tendulkar was on 124 and M. S. Dhoni was on 6!
The Australian bowlers bowled really well to restrict the Indians. At times, India appeared to be heading away. But the bowlers pegged them back. There were two easy dropped chances in the field — one by Adam Gilchrist and one by Matthew Hayden. Had these been taken, things may have been different. Indeed, the Australians have been dropping quite a few right through this series, with Gilchrist being a major contributor in this statistic!
Although that last session perhaps belonged more to India than to Australia, the fact that India had one batsman less in its lineup meant that my SBS Score at the end of the day read Australia, 1.5 :: India, 1.5
On Day-2, India commenced with positive intent. The first ball of the day was cracked by Tendulkar for a four! The first 3 overs yielded 24 runs! Clearly, the Indians had come out with a plan of scoring fast. In his bid to do just that, Dhoni skied a Mitchell Johnson outside-off bouncer in the deep to be caught.
One thought that, at 336-6, this would be curtains time for India. India only had Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, R. P. Singh and Ishant Sharma in the hut! The fact is that these four added nearly 200 runs!
Immediately after Dhoni got out, we witnessed the second best spell of bowling in this series. The best spell of bowling in this series, in my books, is the one that Ishant Sharma bowled to Ricky Ponting in Perth. Here, Brett Lee bowled a terrific, hostile and accurate spell to Sachin Tendulkar. The bowler, Lee, won in the end, with Tendulkar top-edging a hook to Brad Hogg in the deep. India were in trouble at 359-7.
However, Harbhajan Singh had other ideas! He played with abandon mixed with caution, aggression, comic intent and inventiveness. The resolute Anil Kumble kept the singles and twos — and the occassional knees-bent cover-drive — and the scoreboard kept ticking. India went to lunch at 405-7.
Yet another even session in my books and the SBS read Australia, 2.0 :: India, 2.0
The lunch-tea session was the first clean session for any team in this match so far, in my view. India lost just two wickets — but these were wickets #7 and #8 — and had added 120 runs in the process. At Tea India was on 525-9 off 151.0 overs with Anil Kumble on 86 and the young Ishant Sharma on 14. One saw Australian shoulders droop. The fielding was somewhat lethargic and there were plenty of dropped catches. Anil Kumble was looking set for an improbable second Test century and Ishant Sharma, who had already had two lives by then, was looking to provide his captain with support!
At the end of that session, the SBS read Australia, 2.0 :: India, 3.0
After tea though, the romance of a second century for Kumble was squashed. He was out and Australia had 21 overs to negotiate.
The importance of Matthew Hayden was not lost in this game. He was a steadying influence at the top for Australia. He played with calm and composure and balance at the top and showed why he was so missed in Perth! His confidence and calm seemed to rub off on Phil Jaques who batted sensibly and without the fidgety edginess that we saw in Perth! Australia ended the day 62-0.
At the end of day-2, the SBS read Australia, 3.0 :: India, 3.0
There was an incident when Harbhajan Singh was batting that threatened to explode but disappeared without a whimper. Harbhajan Singh squirted-cut-glided-squished a Stuart Clark ball to third man for a four. He ran to the bowlers’ end. Both bowler and batsman were looking at the ball and proceeded to collide mid-pitch. Harbhajan Singh stopped and Clark drew a sharp breath. But the situation was quickly diffused as Harbhajan Singh tapped Stuart Clark on his chest and muttered what appeared to be “Sorry mate”.
Andrew Symonds, possibly the protector of Australian player body-parts, appeared to either be asleep at the wheel or far away from the action. Either that or he must have thought that Stuart Clark’s chest wasn’t as valuable as Brett Lee’s bottom! Lucky, for otherwise, we may have had a repeat of the Sydney explosion that rocked the cricketing world!
And so, this incident disappeared from the radar without much of a trace!
Mike Proctor took the Australian team’s word
We are perhaps on the brink of another round of word-wars in the cricketing world. In a leaked report, it has been revealed that Mike Proctor indeed took the word of the Australians over that of the Indians in slapping a Level-3 violation on Harbhajan Singh.
His report says: “I have heard evidence from Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden that he did say these words. Harbhajan Singh denies saying these words. Both umpires did not hear nor did Ricky Ponting or Sachin Tendulkar. I am satisfied and sure beyond reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh did say these words. I am satisfied that the words were said and that the complaint to the umpires, which forms this charge, would not have been put forward falsely, I dismiss any suggestion of motive or malice.”
If Mike Proctor’s judgement withstands legal scrutiny, then human beings are bananas! Let us just strip this right open. The Indian legal team can then drive a posse of trucks through these pronouncement!
- First, we have the victim as a witness.
- Second, no one, apart from the accusers heard anything!
- The chief complainant — Ricky Ponting — did not hear anything.
- The accused denies saying anything — and so he would!
- There are no independent witnesses.
- All witnesses have vested interests!
- How can Proctor prove that the complaint would not have been put forward falsely!
- How can Proctor prove that there are no suggestions of motive or malice?
This Kangaroo-court ruling must be chucked out. There will be calls for Mike Proctor to be retired and put to pasture. I will readily support such calls for the man seems to have lost his marbles.
In my view, this system of delivering justice by inept and untrained Match Referees will, itself, come under sharp review. This whole process ought to be banned and more power must be given to the on-field umpires through a football- and field-hockey-style green-yellow-red card system. This would put an end to “jobs for the boys” as well as ineptitude.