In the comments section of an earlier post, I postulated a hypothesis around why players like Harbhajan Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Arjuna Ranatunga, et al, are hated in Australia.
What wrong did Sourav Ganguly do? He was in the face of the Australians constantly when he was Team India captain. He made Steve Waugh wait for the toss repeatedly! He slowly, but surely, “mentally disintegrated” the Australians! Ganguly merely won that round in the Mental Disintegration Battle (MDB) match. What was wrong with that? Yet, he was labelled Public Enemy #1 in Australia!
What did Arjuna Ranatunga do? He was constantly in the face of the Australians. He was one of the first players in the world to say he wasn’t frightened of Shane Warne’s bowling! He constantly stretched the envelope and became a most hated player in the Australian team! Surely, all he did was to win several rounds of MDB! Nothing more. Nothing less.
What is Harbhajan Singh doing now? He is constantly under the skin of the Australians! He has stretched Matthew Hayden to the extent that the Australian opener loses the plot totally, goes to air in a radio show and jumps arms and legs flailing into the gutter. Is it not a mere instantiation of a round to Harbhajan Singh in the MDB stakes? Surely, this is allowed in the rules of MDB, a game invented by the Australians! Except that this game is now also being played on the other side of the “white line”.
What did Sree Santh do? He mouthed off at Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden after securing their wickets. Surely, these are accepted! After all, if Matthew Hayden can stand in the slips cordon applauding Brad Williams giving a send-off to Sourav Ganguly, all bets are off!
I see that Robert Craddock has already written about this issue. He has added to the list Douglas Jardine, John Snow and Richard Hadlee.
So, the question then is: Why is it that Australia’s “most hated players” are Douglas Jardine, John Snow, Richard Hadlee, Arjuna Ranatunga, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, and Sree Santh?
My hypothesis is that all of them employed an in-your-face approach to get under the skin of the Australians. They are as good at MDB as any Australian is. They play the game as hard and competitively as any Aussie that entered the field. Why is it that the Australians find it hard to digest?
Why is Sree Santh labelled (by Andrew Symonds no less) as “Public Enemy #1”? Interestingly, in this article, supposedly written while Symonds was perched on a tall pedestal at about 35,000 ft above sea-level, Symonds says: “It is fair to say there is not a lot of love between us and (Shanthakumaran) Sreesanth. His carry-on in this series has been way over the top. We don’t mind blokes having a go and standing up for themselves, but he has gone above and beyond what’s acceptable.”
Acceptable, to whom?
Why is it hard for Australians to stomach that there are a bunch of players who will stare the Australians in the face and give it back? My hypothesis is that if guys like Sree Santh, Harbhajan Singh, Sourav Ganguly and Ranatunga played for Australia, Australians would be celebrating them!
Hayden asks a wet-behind-the-ears Ishant Sharma to concentrate on his cricket and welcomes him to a boxing ring for a bout. Yet when Brad Williams indulged in a series of foul-mouthed send-offs, Hayden stood at first slip and celebrated. The whole of Australia celebrated. It is time to accept that there are other players in the world watching and aping (sorry for the marginal Darwininan pun to a taboo word in cricket circles) the Australians too! Time to be more accepting I think.
Time for a debate at least!