Daily Archives: 31 January 2008

i3j3Cricket is One year old!

Yes, we hit the one year mark 2 days back (29 January 2008). From the time the first post was written here, it has been a fun ride. We have all had heaps of enjoyment, frivolousness, serious debate, arguments and roller-coaster rides — in terms of Team India performances!

But most of all, it is fair to say that it has been a fun and enjoyable journey for all i3j3Cricket’s Contributors.

In this year, we have seen a total of 605 posts.

Thank you to all of you that take the time to visit regularly. A special thank you to all of you that take the trouble to comment or email. Thank you to the other bloggers who BlogRoll us.

For those that used to visit and do not return regularly to read the nonsense we write, please come back! All is forgiven!

— i3j3Cricket Contributors

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A good laugh…

This is a terrific interview with one of the BCCI people that are running the game in India! The incoherence of thought and words is awesome! I’d like to think that one would need to work extremely hard to come across as so jumbled! He seems to have elevated incoherence to an art form! In the midst of the sordidness that surrounds Monkeygate, you should read this for a laugh and a head-shake in sheer wonderment!

— Mohan

On Sledging

In the Monkeygate debate, the need for sledging on the cricket field has been called into question.

Was there a need for Andrew Symonds to pin Harbhajan Singhs’ ear when the Indian said “well bowled” to Australian bowler Brett Lee? Was that an Australian thing to do? Should a player really indulge in sledging at all? These are questions that do need to be asked.

I called in on Jon Faine’s talkback segment on ABC Radio yesterday and repeated my view that all sledging has to be banned. Faine wished me good luck. I added that while mild banter was perhaps ok, ABC’s own contracted commentator, Harsha Bhogle, had said that some of the words that were said on the cricket field would not be heard at his dinner table! Jon Faine reminded me and everyone else that the players weren’t at Harsha Bhogle’s dinner table! They were playing tough, professional, hard cricket!

Fair point.

But does that mean that they should indulge in ugly behaviour and sledge each other on the field?

The Australian Governor-General and the Australian Prime Minister weighed in on the debate yesterday.

Before yesterday’s Prime Minister’s XI match in Canberra against the visiting Sri Lankans, Major-General Michael Jeffery, Australia’s Governor General (someone who seldom gets involved in public controversies), commented that sledging was “totally un-Australian” and should be eradicated.

This is, unfortunately, not a view that is shared by Australian players and media personalities. All of them talk about “lines in the sand”. Who defines the sand? Who writes the rules for appropriate sledges? Where is this “line in the sand”?

Whose line is it anyway?

The Australian Governor-General said that Test players had a responsibility to set an example for juniors, and referred to players questioning umpires’ decisions and failing to walk.

“I think there’s also a need to really take care of the fundamental courtesies and good manners,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd echoed these sentiments and made a plea for “greater civility to permeate the veins of the game”.

Sane words, in my view, from two good men.

And on the topic of sane words, here is an excellent article by Harsha Bhogle in The Age (31 Jan 2008). I do wish the Peter Lalors of this world would read it.

In particular, I reproduce this last paragraph from the article:

So why is India so sensitive about what is happening in Australia? Since I was a child, my abiding memory is of visiting journalists and cricketers coming to India and making fun of us. We were a country finding our feet, we were not confident; we seethed within but we accepted. The new generation in India is not as accepting — it is prouder, more confident, more successful. Those bottled up feelings are bubbling through. This is the great dawn of acceptance. It is a phase both countries must understand. This is the storm before the lull. Let’s play cricket. We’re only a small family.

All I can say is that if Harsha Bhogle had read Peter Lalor mocking Harbhajan Singh’s mother and that squeaky-voiced TV reporter, Harsha Bhogle’s abiding memory will be further fuelled. And if this blatant mockery attempt comes from a knowledgeable, self-confessed Indophile — with a Ganesh idol on his mantle-piece, no less — that same God had better rush to Harsha Bhogle’s aid to erase those abiding memories.

Certainly the Lalors of this world are not going to do it; they will just augment it. And fires of mistrust, cultural misunderstandings and anger will continue to burn.

— Mohan

Harbhajan Singh’s mother in Peter Lalor’s frame…

In this article in yesterday’s Australian newspaper, Peter Lalor, our good friend from The Australian, takes aim at Harbhajan Singh’s mother and squeaky-voiced Indian TV reporters!

My conclusion after reading Peter Lalor’s recent articles is that he is somewhat upset by Justice Hansen’s ruling. Maybe he has a dislike for anyone that plays the game like the Australians do.

What did Harbhajan Singh do? He stood up to an Australian player.

In my view, that is precisely why Sourav Ganguly, Arjuna Ranatunga, Harbhajan Singh, Sree Santh, et al, are disliked here in Australia. They play the game tough. They give it to the Australians as Australians themselves do to them. I do believe Australians need to get used to this new breed of cricketer from the sub-continent. They are not going to take things lying down — as they have, over the years!

One could mount the argument that Harbhajan Singh was a placid person on the pitch playing his cricket until he ears got pinned by a needlessly ugly behaviour on the field.

Let us not forget that Harbhajan Singh was actually trying to encourage his opponent, Brett Lee, with a “well bowled” comment, when his head got snapped off by the churlish Andrew Symonds. Symonds said that he had an objection to Harbhajan Singh saying some encouraging words to one of the Australians. Symonds said, “my objection was that a test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player.”

Justice Hansen admonished Symonds’ behaviour and said, “If that is his view I hope it is not one shared by all international cricketers. It would be a sad day for cricket if it is.”

Indeed.

Was Harbhajan Singh provoked? Well, Justice Hansen seemed to think so. Was he right to mouth off back at Symonds in the manner he did? No. And he got slapped a fine for the lesser Level 2.8 offence which refers to “obscene, offensive or seriously insulting language”.

The facts are that both Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke accept that Harbhajan Singh said something in his native toungue that they did not understand. Both of them admit that Singh said something that sounded like “big monkey”. In fact, the transcript of Michael Clarke’s statement, in Mike Proctor’s original hearing, indicates that he heard things being said that he did not hear or comprehend which he referred to as “something something something”. And then he heard the words “big monkey”.

The fact is that Andrew Symonds himself accepted that Sachin Tendulkar of all the participants was closest to Harbhajan Singh during the course of the heated exchange. Tendulkar said that he heard the heated exchange that included swearing between the two main subjects, initiated by Symonds. He also said that he did not hear the word “monkey” or “big monkey” but that he heard Harbhajan Singh use a term in his native tongue “teri maki” (pronounced with a “n”).

The judge needed to be sure that the allegations could indeed be upheld. If he was left with an “honest and reasonable uncertainty” then he should have ruled in favour of Harbhajan Singh.

The problem here was compounded by the fact that of the three Australian players that heard the words “big monkey”, none of them could recall any other words that were said by either party! Which is somewhat strange. Justice Hansen finds this a bit surprising and states, “This is a little surprising in the context where there was a reasonably prolonged heated exchange. Indeed Mr Clarke went so far as to say that he did not hear Mr Symonds say anything. Given Mr Symonds’ own acceptance that he initiated the exchange and was abusive towards Mr Singh, that is surprising. This failure to identify any other words could be because some of what they were hearing was not in English.”

The balance of probability indicates, therefore, that it is probable Harbhajan Singh did indeed use the words “teri maa(n) ki”.

Justice Hansen, in his findings criticises Andrew Symonds for provoking the incident.

The really interesting segment of the ruling is this one below (reproduced here):

Given that is the view of the complainant it is hard to see how the requisite elements of 3.3 could be satisfied. However, given it is an objective interpretation that is not the end of the matter. I must consider if the “ordinary person” would have been offended in a 3.3 sense. That again requires a look at context. Mr Singh had innocently, and in the tradition, of the game acknowledged the quality of Mr Lee’s bowling. That interchange had nothing to do with Mr Symonds but he determined to get involved and as a result was abusive towards Mr Singh. Mr Singh was, not surprisingly, abusive back. He accepts that his language was such as to be offensive under 2.8. But in my view even if he had used the words “alleged” an “ordinary person” standing in the shoes of Mr Symonds who had launched an unprovoked and unnecessary invective laden attack would not be offended or insulted or humiliated in terms of 3.3.

In other words, Justice Hansen seems to have said that even if Harbhajan Singh had used the words “big monkey”, at Andrew Symonds, given that the latter had “launched an unprovoked and unnecessary invective laden attack”, he would not be offended or insulted!

Perhaps I am reading this wrong!

Justice Hansen even accuses Symonds of breaching a handshake deal made when Harbhajan allegedly first called him a monkey in India.

Harbhajan Singh has a problem and this needs to be addressed. He is an ill-tempered hot-head and needs to be counselled.

At the same time, it would be wrong for Peter Lalor and the Australian media to ignore that Andrew Symonds has a problem too. And this needs addressing pronto. Symonds can’t sit on a pedestal placed at 35,000 ft above sea level and preach eloquently on appropriate forms of celebration (cf: Indian post-Twenty20 celebrations) and then carry on like a pork chop after his teams’ Sydney victory. And did anyone see his war-dance when he got Kumble out at Perth? How can this man talk about appropriate post-victory celebrations?

I didn’t see Peter Lalor rushing off to interview Symonds’ mum at that point in time! But he got some choice words out of Harbhajan Singhs’ mother and proceeded to pillory and mock it.

Did Harbhajan Singh’s mother say that she was relieved that her son had made a “derogatory remark about his opponent’s mother’s vagina” (as Peter Lalor writes in his blog)? No. She said, “I am very happy today. It is the victory of truth. I was anxious before the verdict came, but now I am more at peace. I knew God was with us and I had full faith that my son would come out clean.”

What is the “truth” that she talks about? The truth is that there is no evidence to suggest that her son is a racist. Period.

It is easy to mock. Anyone can invade the privacy of another person’s home, stick a mike under her nose, get some choice words out of her and then proceed to pillory the innocent subject who said what she did. To write responsibly and with empathy is not really hard. But it calls for courage. It calls for dignity. It calls for a code of ethics.

And on the topic of mockery. What is with this squeaky-voiced Indian TV reporter? What does a squeaky voice have to do with the price of fish anyway?

Let us stick to the facts please? Court rulings are based on fact, not allegations, anger and opinions. Did Harbhajan Singh say something racist? We will never know. The Kangaroo Court set up by Mike Proctor, a man not trained in things legal, decreed “beyond reasonable doubt” that Singh did villify. That was a wrong ruling — we all know that now. It was wrong because natural justice was not served. The man did not review all the evidence properly enough to be satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt”. And yet, he pronounced his ruling “beyond reasonable doubt”. That is a huge call to make. And it was made by a man that just did not know.

In any case, the initial ruling by Mike Proctor got thrown out. Thankfully natural justice was served. A proper court indicated that that initial ruling was a mistake. There simply wasn’t enough incontrovertible evidence to suggest that Harbhajan Singh did say what he was purported to have said. On the contrary, there was some evidence to suggest that, on the balance of probability, Harbhajan Singh did say something abusive in his native tongue, when provoked needlessly, that may have seemed to an untrained ear to have sounded like “monkey”.

End of story. Time for all of us to accept that and move on.